Greetings from Denver. I'm down here spending some time with family, but I also did a little work sneaking down to Coors Field to see the Rockies play the Philadelphia Phillies and talk to Raul Ibanez.
But besides Ibanez, you'll notice in the photo above that Miguel Cairo is also with the Phillies this year along with coach Sam Perlozzo, and of course GM Pat Gillick - a former Mariner himself - had already traded for Jamie Moyer and signed Greg Dobbs.
The game was pretty good. Phillies starter Brett Myers got knocked around early, but he stayed in the game and the Phillies rallied to get him the win. Raul aided that rally, absolutely crushing a homer to right. See the highlight here.
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As usual, Raul was doing extra hitting and obsessive preparation before the game. Our conversation was only supposed to be five minutes, but it turned into close to 30. Most of it was about the change in atmospheres. He was careful not to get into talk about last year's clubhouse, other than in generalities. But he admitted that seeing the Phillies get their World Series was something that made him a little jealous.
He also talked about being on a team filled with "superstars" like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels, and being impressed with their level of commitment to preparation for each game.
But a good portion of our conversation was spent talking about his own preparation during the season and in the offseason. It's something that Raul is very passionate about.
"If I didn't do all these things, there is no way I'd be standing in this clubhouse right now," he said.
He called it an "addiction" and a "compulsion" and admitted that his wife called it "pyscho."
Cairo, who I teased often on here, was genial and asked how the Mariners looked at spring training. We talked about last seasons expectations and how it made the team tight. We both pointed to the sweep by the Orioles in the first road trip of the season that made some players start to panic unnecessarily. But as he pointed out, when you see upper level people in the organization panicking, it carries over to the players.
We also chatted a little about the development of Jose Lopez and Yuni Betancourt and he admitted that he was a little surprised that the Mariners seemed to be so cautious when it came to the handling of those players, mentioning that Lopez and Betancourt seemed to do what they wanted at times without much repercussion.
But he didn't discount either players' talent. Saying that both players are on the cusp of being really good.
Also talked with Dobbs, who admitted that he's still living in whirlwind, going from being on the shuttle between Seattle and Tacoma to getting a World Series ring.
Anyway, that's about it from Denver. I'll leave you with a picture of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who the Mariners passed up on for Jeff Clement. In hindsight, it's not looking like a great move. Clement is still struggling in Tacoma, and has just one hit in the first four games. But I think he'll start hitting again.