Greetings from the press box at Safeco. I've taken a bit of a hiatus from the blog for various reasons. Anyway, I'm covering today and Thursday. On Wednesday, I will be here (after my morning in Seahawkland) and will be co-hosting the KJR's "Baseball's best postgame show" with Jason Puckett after the Wednesday game. So tune in listen, I'm sure I'll sound like an idiot. Hopefully an entertaining idiot.
The biggest news of the day: Miguel Batista has cut his hair!
After leaving the team for personal reasons, Batista showed up to Safeco with a freshly shorn head, looking like this ....
Disappointingly, gone is the George Jefferson look he had before.
You can kind of see it in this photo ...
But it was truly comical in the clubhouse before games when he went hatless. It was one of the more enjoyable daily moments I had in the clubhouse was seeing that his hair and listening to Junior call him the "Cul de sac." I asked Junior what he thought, and he said, "I actually don't know which is worse."
On to somewhat more important news ...A few days ago it was hoped that Russell Branyan would be taking batting practice today and be ready to return to the team perhaps by this weekend that will not be the case. Branyan's back is still not to the point where he's ready to start baseball activities.
"I don't think I'm ready to swing a bat yet, but I'm close," he said."I still think he’s going to be able to finish the year out playing, we just don’t how much time it will be," Manager Don Wakamatsu said. "He’s doing a lot of stuff in the pool right now. He still feels it a little bit. We were hoping that maybe there wasn’t anything. But he still he feels it a little bit. He’s still hopeful he can come back and that’s why we pushed it a back a little bit to Tampa, and at the very least to start taking batting practice in Toronto."
Branyan thinks he'll be ready to play by Toronto.
He's admittedly growing irritated with the injury and not being able to play.
"Any time you spend time away from the game, away from the team, it sucks," he said. "It sucks sitting here, it sucks not being able to go on the road trip. The worst you can do in the game of baseball is strike out four times in a game and make three errors. I'd much rather do that than sit in the house on the disabled list."
The conversation then swung to his status for next year, since he will be a free agent. When asked if it would be ideal to come back here, he said yes. But of course, he wasn't going to say no.
"I can't ask for anything more than to come back here," he said. "From Jack Zduriencik to Wakamatsu to the coaching staff to teammates to the clubhouse staff to the grounds crew to everyone, I haven't been treated better in my career, I haven't met better people - the fans here, the city ... but obviously it's going to be up to them whether they want to bring me back here or not. I'd love to come back here, I enjoy playing in this ballpark, I enjoyed getting to play on an every-day basis this year. I'd be excited to entertain the option to come back here next year."
He admitted he hasn't been approached about it yet by the Mariners. One thing is for certain, Branyan wants to play every day, he isn't about to go back to being platooned or to a team that will make him a bench player. He got a taste of starting and wants to keep it.
"What would you do? Would you want to go back to sitting on the bench?," he said. "I think this year was a building block for me. My reps, my stamina, everything, I think I'll build off it. Next year, as long as I get a chance to play every day, I think it's up from here."
Something to think about is the return of Ichiro to Safeco after breaking Wee Willie Keeler's record of eight consecutive seasons with 200 hits by notching his 200th hit in his ninth straight season this past weekend in Texas.
Obviously he'll get a warm and appreciative ovation -- from a crowd that won't be over 28,000 people.
It’s an awfully special record. I’ve read a lot of the dialogue going on around baseball," Wakamatsu said. "But for me, if you polled the great players within the game, whether it’s Derek Jeter or A-Rod or Mark Teixiera, all these guys and you asked them how special that is, I think you’d get a greater appreciation from the guys that have to do it every day. I know I was talking with Mikey Young with Texas, who I witnessed to do five in a row and how tough it was to try to get to six and couldn’t do it. Or Pete Rose taking 17 years to do it.
As for appreciation nationally, Wakamatsu admitted he felt Ichiro deserved more. Some of the baseball world is kind of pushing the record aside.
"We're kind of the society that cherishes the home run and power and all that stuff, that’s what make it so special is that his peers really understand," Wakamatsu said. "You go through the greats like Rod Carew or Tony Gwynn – guys that are known for being good hitters - ask them how special that record it is and you’ll get a greater appreciation for it."
Also of note ... Chris Jakubauskas will play catch today and possible throw a simulated game in the coming days. Sean White's shoulder is still receiving treatment on his shoulder and it's still a little sore.