While we place much emphasis on the Mariners, we don't want to forget about the organization's minor league squads and some of the top prospects. Across the country, the minor league teams open their seasons. Above is the new scoreboard at Cheney Stadium, but unfortunately this spate of nice weather will go unused as the Rainiers open tonight in Fresno not Tacoma, as I joked with Rainiers manager Daren Brown the other day, they'll return right when the sleet and rain will be coming back.
A few things from that, since I was the one who wrote it. I talked quite extensively with Daren Brown about the Rainiers, and a lot about Jeff Clement.
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* Brown doesn't think that Clement will allow being set down to Triple A to affect him. While some might pout (see Jeremy Reed two years ago) and complain and let it bother them, Clement was disappointed upon initially hearing the news, but went back to focusing on the task at hand.
"He's not that type of kid," Brown said. "He's ready to go back to work. He was disappointed, but it's human nature to be disappointed. But at the same time, it's time to go back and work on things he needs to work on to get back there and hopefully this time he'll stay."
* Clement is going to see action at first base. When and how much remains to be seen as the story mentions. He's working out there, and trying to learn the position. Brown isn't going to play him there until, Clement deems himself comfortable.
"I think he'll be alright," Brown said. "I know how hard he's worked behind the plate and I know he'll work hard trying to get accustomed to playing first base. He's not there. It will be a continual thing with him."
People might scoff at the idea of learning to play first base. But its far more than just standing on the bag and catching throws. There's more to it. Good defensive first baseman might not get noticed much, but bad defensive first baseman (Ryan Howard) do.
* Clement's first priority is still catching and improving defensively there. Much has been made about his deficiencies behind the plate, but Brown said the improvement is still noticeable.
"Compared to where he was when I first saw him, it's no comparison," Brown said.
* Brown agreed that Clement's recent struggles might be a matter of pressing and trying to do too much.
"I know he's a kid that wants to do well, and I think he puts too much pressure on himself sometimes," Brown said. "I know the guy they saw in spring training and the guy they saw last year in the big leagues is not the same player we saw in Tacoma at the start of last year. Sometimes guys get caught up trying to show something on every pitch and every at-bat. Takes a little more time down below and they take off. Looking for him to get off to a good start and get that confidence back."
Triple A -- Tacoma Rainiers
* PCL preview from my buddy and former co-worker Mason Kelley for Milb.com
* Rainiers roster
* Rainiers schedule
* Also go here if you want to listen to the venerable Mike Curto call Rainiers games.