For many years it seemed like the Mariners always hosted the Athletics or vise versa for the home opener. This year the Mariners will be traveling to Anaheim on March 31st to play the Angels and then the Angels are coming to Safeco Field on April 8th for the Mariners home opener. It changes things up a little bit and I certainly think it breaks up the monotony of baseball schedules. But really, does it matter? There are only five teams in the American League West (used to be four) and that hasn’t changed for some time. I think in retrospect, it’s nice to see these small but subtle changes.
The Athletics aren’t far behind, though. The team comes to Safeco Field that opening night weekend for a three game series.
In other Mariners news, Dustin Ackley has a full beard going on right now. It’s quite the beard, I must say. Along with growing an epic beard, he’s not doing too bad in Spring Training right now. Of course, batting .457 won’t follow him into the regular season, it’s still nice to see Ackley hitting like he was projected to do in 2009.
“People don’t put a lot into the stats in Spring Training. But I put a lot into how I’ve felt and the confidence you build in the spring,” Ackley said Sunday morning. “I think that’s huge. You can’t really put into words what that does for you. I think taking everything I’ve done and just being consistent with that is going to be the biggest thing.”
The never-ending debate whether Spring Training “counts” or not has never really dissolved. Baseball fans continue to have their opinions about Spring Training-stats do not count but the work and the team cohesion do count. Obviously Ackley isn’t going to hit .457 throughout the regular season. We all know that. He has come a long way since the last couple of seasons with the Mariners, though. I think McClendon has played a huge part in that.
“I hear scouts all the time say, ‘Don’t get caught up in Spring Training.’ Well, we have to get caught up in something,” McClendon said. “You have to believe in something. We try to temper it.
“What I try to do is put guys in the most pressure situations I could this spring, to see what we really have. But the fact is, when the lights come on, you don’t really know how anyone is going to react, other than guys who have track records.”
Ackley says he feels confident and mentally ready. But what if he has a slow start? How will the fans react to that? How will Ackley handle it?
“I want my confidence to be there even when I’m not doing well. I think those are the most important times, when you are struggling and kind of doubting yourself. That’s when you need to step back and tell yourself this isn’t what I’m going to do; I’m not going to go down this path again, because I’ve already been down it before and it didn’t work.”
The Mariners start the regular season in less than one week and I think we are all ready for some Mariners baseball.