Mariners Insider Blog

More than batting practice, less than a game

A pair of minor league pitchers in camp early warmed up in the bullpen and then took the main practice field in camp – and took turns pitching to hitters they'd heard about but never seen up close.

Travis Mortimor, a lefty, and Jake Wild, a right-hander, faced Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Sweeney, Russell Branyan and Yuniesky Betancourt.

"All the way through spring training we'll have quite of few of these sessions on the back fields," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "We want these guys feeling real comfortable going into the season. Anybody we can rest on their off day and still get at-bats without having wear-and-tear on their body, we'll try to do that."

Of the four hitters, only Branyan had played in a spring game – the other three hadn't face anyone other than coaches in batting practice.

"Mentally, you have to approach it like it's a big-league ballgame," Sweeney said. "You're preparing to play big-league baseball physically and mentally, no matter who you're facing."

The guys got their hacks, took pitches, got a feel for live pitching again. It was another step to in the slow road the Mariners are asking veteran players to take. The object: to avoid injuries, build strength and have them ready for opening day.