PEORIA, Ariz. – Like a struggling golfer trying to remember the one good swing that made the ball go straight, Mike Morse hopes to recapture everything that went so well at spring training last year.
The Seattle Mariners’ position players will have their first official workout of 2009 today, and Morse has a simple approach as he competes for a backup job with the team.
“I’m going to put my head down and go for it,” he said Tuesday. “Just keep quiet and play my heart out.”
Motivated by former Mariner Raul Ibanez’s advice to relax and let his ability lead him, Morse batted .429 last spring, the best spring training average in baseball and a Mariners exhibition record.
“I learned that the more I have fun playing this game, the more it takes the stress away,” he said. “That’s my biggest thing – come out here and have fun, stay focused and play hard.”
It earned Morse a place on the Mariners’ opening-day roster for the first time, and he doubled in his first at-bat April 4 at Baltimore.
Nine days later, while playing right field against the Angels at Safeco Field, Morse made a headlong dive that ended his season. He dislocated his left shoulder, tore the labrum and needed major surgery to repair all the damage.
He spent all summer rehabbing, then went to winter ball in Venezuela where he began stating his case all over again.
“If I’m not completely back, then I’m better than I was before,” Morse said. “This arm is stronger than my other arm now. I feel fine and it’s the last thing I worry about.”
First day for Fields
One day after he turned pro, first-round draft pick Josh Fields worked out, calling his first day awesome and nerve-wracking.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I didn’t know what today was going to entail.”
Fields, who said he has been throwing in bullpens since mid-January, may get on the mound Thursday, manager Don Wakamatsu said.
The Mariners hope to get him into at least one exhibition game before sending him to the minor league camp.
Pitcher Jarrod Washburn reported as expected after being excused from the first three days of workouts because of an undisclosed commitment. Washburn didn’t say what the commitment was, joking that “I had visa problems.” He lives in Wisconsin. … Pitchers will throw to hitters today, although everyone is on orders not to swing – and that includes Yuniesky Betancourt. Last year during the first live batting practice session, when hitters were urged to track the ball, Betancourt swung at the first pitch.