After nearly two months in Arizona and a six-game road trip to open the regular season, new Seattle manager Eric Wedge was ready to come home and finally enjoy a house he’s rarely spent any time in.
“My family’s there, but I don’t think I’ve been there in forever,” Wedge said as the Mariners wrapped up a series in Texas on Wednesday. “It’s exciting to get in front of our fans for the first time.”
But his home debut as the man charged with trying to turn around the Mariners will take a backseat tonight when Seattle hosts Cleveland.
This home opener for Seattle is all about Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who died from a heart attack on Nov. 10.
Tonight will be the first time in franchise history that Niehaus isn’t behind the microphone for a home opener. For 34 seasons, Niehaus was the narrator for baseball in the Pacific Northwest, from the first pitch in franchise history, through the final out of 2010.
There was already a public celebration for Niehaus’ life at Safeco Field in December and the Mariners are wearing a memorial patch dedicated to Niehaus on their uniforms this season.
A stretch of 1st Avenue South outside of Safeco Field will be renamed Dave Niehaus Way, after the city of Seattle approved the move. Popular Seattle rapper Macklemore will perform “My Oh My,” his tribute song to Niehaus penned in the days after his death.
Marilyn Niehaus, Dave’s widow, will throw out the first pitch surrounded by her family. Her husband threw out the first pitch when Safeco Field opened in 1999.
The Mariners will also honor last season’s American League Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez, and celebrate the Gold Gloves earned by right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and center fielder Franklin Gutierrez.
M’s catcher sidelined
Seattle received a blow to its catching corps when backup Adam Moore learned he has a tear of the medial meniscus in his right knee that will require surgery.
Moore hurt his knee during the eighth inning Wednesday at Texas when he blocked a pitch in the dirt.
Twins lose Nishioka
The Twins’ heralded Japanese import, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, broke his left fibula after the New York Yankees’ Nick Swisher slid into him at second base while breaking up a double play in Minnesota’s 4-3 loss Thursday.
Nishioka had to be helped off the field, barely putting weight on the leg, in the seventh inning.
The Twins signed Nishioka to a three-year, $9.25 million deal in December. He was 0 for 4 with a strikeout to drop his average to .208.