He is a veteran now, nearer the end than the beginning of a major league career that began in Seattle - but Dave Valle remains a kid at heart.
Returning to the Kingdome on Friday with his new team, the Texas Rangers, Valle not only visited exteammates, he made a point of heading into the Seattle clubhouse to talk with behind-the-scenes friends.
And, after spending time with team trainers and the clubhouse manager, Valle got playful. He headed right for Jay Buhner’s locker.
Buhner is a meticulous sort - each of his more than a dozen pairs of baseball shoes are carefully stacked, every item is in it’s place. Or was, until Valle made his raid.
When he departed, everything in Buhner’s locker had been rearranged, disturbed or tampered with.
Clubhouse manager Henry Genzale watched the transformation, laughing and shaking his head. Buhner, of course, knew immediately who had trashed his cubicle.
Out like a lamb
Opening day in major league baseball is tentatively scheduled to be held in the Kingdome - with the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox kicking off the ‘96 season in a nationally televised game.
So is the tentative date, March 31. That would be the earliest opening day in big-league history. Manager Lou Piniella took the news in stride.
“As a manager, I’m undefeated in March,” he said. “But to tell you the truth, I’m a little more concerned over this year at the moment.”
Looking for a veteran pitcher, the Mariners took a look at right-hander Pete Smith, placed on waivers earlier this week by the Cincinnati Reds. After talking to their scouts, the team insists it no longer has an interest. … Disabled catcher Chad Kreuter (strained elbow) was throwing before the game and first baseman Greg Pirkl (strained quadriceps) is optimistic he could be playing again next week - even if it’s in the minor leagues. Left-hander Steve Frey, another disabled Mariner, is ready to pitch and could be activated before the trip that begins Monday in Detroit. … Seattle has already won seven games this season when scoring three runs or fewer. A year ago in those low-scoring contests, the Mariners went 5-38 … Felix Fermin continues to struggle since coming off the disabled list May 27. In 19 games since then, he has batted .162.