Once again, the spring schedule worked out so I could bring you a quick season preview of the team the Cubs are playing this afternoon. Here, then, my view of the Mariners.
One thing that will be different about this year's Seattle Mariners is management. Both the GM's office and field manager's office will have new men in them. Jerry Dipoto, former major league pitcher and Angels GM, takes over in the front office and former Cubs catcher Scott Servais will be the field manager, his first such job.
Will it make any difference? Obviously, only time will tell, but the Mariners have made several key changes on the field to try to shake things up.
Adam Lind returns from a one-year sojourn in the National League with the Brewers to take over at first base. You might think he could DH some, and he likely will, but mostly he'll have to play the field as Nelson Cruz is ensconced at DH. Does this look like he's happy about that?
Chris Iannetta came over via free agency to start behind the plate. Nori Aoki took the same route to sign to play left field. And the Mariners acquired former top Rangers prospect Leonys Martin in a five-player trade, and hope he'll be their answer in center field.
The incomparable King Felix Hernandez leads the rotation, which has been made stronger by the addition of Nathan Karns from the Rays. (Among the players sent to Tampa in that deal was C.J. Riefenhauser, now in Cubs camp.)
Lots of Mariners bullpen slots are up for grabs, but closer (for now) stays with Steve Cishek, who has an odd side-arm/submarine delivery that can be surprisingly effective.
The real wild card is Servais. He has never managed or coached anywhere. Before Dipoto hired him for this job, Servais was assistant general manager under Dipoto in Anaheim. Crony hires like this rarely work, but who knows, maybe Servais will be different.
The Mariners will visit Wrigley Field for a three-game series July 29-30-31, as it was for the Rangers' visit, all day games (as of now).