The first impression in spring training often gets undue attention. Even so, Mariners manager Scott Servais couldn’t hide a smile Friday when the conversation turned to his projected rotation.
Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo each worked through their first official bullpen sessions Thursday, which generally consisted of 30-35 pitches over roughly 12 minutes.
"I just think the group as a whole is very professional," Servais said. "These guys have been around. We have some experience. Most of our inexperience is in the bullpen.
"When (veteran) guys go about a bullpen — (you watch) how they approach it? What are they trying to get out of it? It’s a very comforting feeling if you’re a manager."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News Tribune
Hernandez, Gallardo and Smyly are on accelerated programs because of plans to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, a 16-nation tournament that begin next month at four first-round sites.
Regarding Hernandez, Servais said: "His throwing program is ramped up earlier. He has thrown a couple of games in winter ball. So, he’s in a much different spot than we saw last year."
Regarding Smyly: "He can move the ball. He strikes them out, and you can see how he does it. I’m excited to have him."
Regarding Gallardo: "He knows he had a down year last year (at Baltimore). He wants to turn it around. Most guys go back to their roots, and their work ethic and get it going a little bit earlier."
Several relievers also created an stir in their first bullpen workouts, including three newcomers: right-handers Shae Simmons and Casey Fien, and lefty James Pazos.
The 19 infielders and outfielders on the 62-player camp roster are scheduled to report Saturday for physical examinations. Many are already in camp taking part in voluntary workouts.
The first full-squad workout is Sunday. The Mariners open their 36-game Cactus League schedule Feb. 25 against complex co-tenant San Diego at Peoria Stadium.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners