PEORIA, Ariz. _ Seattle Mariners second baseman Bret Boone has spent the past month at spring training watching, wondering and forming an opinion of rookie center fielder Jeremy Reed.
“That kid can play,” Boone said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if you look up at the end of the year and he’s hit .300. There’s not too many guys I could say that about.”
Reed has been one of the pleasant surprises of spring training for the Mariners. Thursday against the Brewers, he went 2 for 3 and drove in two runs, raising his exhibition batting average to .327 and increasing his RBI total to 13, second-best on the team.
All at 23 years old.
Boone remembers when he was 23 in 1994, when he played his first season in the majors with the Mariners, batted .251 and didn’t feel too badly about it. Boone batted .320 his second season with the Reds, but he says Reed can do that as a rookie.
“I was incapable right away,” Boone said. “I needed to learn. I started getting a little bit of an idea the second half of ‘93. I needed that first three-quarters of the year to get my feet wet.”
And Reed doesn’t need that learning curve?
“I don’t see it,” Boone said. “He looks like a veteran player. Most of us, when we are rookies, are raw and talented. He looks almost like a veteran hitter, like a guy who’s been around for awhile. That’s very impressive.”
Boone said the last young player he remembers capable of hitting .300 as a rookie was Ken Griffey Jr.
“Griffey didn’t hit .300, but he still was pretty good his first year,” Boone said. Griffey batted .264 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI in 127 games. “That’s a tough thing to do.”
Boone has no doubt Reed will handle hitting in the No. 2 spot, where there will be pressure to advance Ichiro Suzuki on the bases.
“He’s one guy I don’t worry about,” Boone said. “He’s going to have his problems and there will be bumps in the road for him, just like everybody. But after being around him and talking to him, I think he’ll handle it real well.
“First year in the big leagues, most of the time you get a rookie his age and you’d say if he hits .260 or .270, that would be a good year. It wouldn’t surprise me if he hit .300. He’s not intimidated. He’s just a hitter.”
Closer Eddie Guardado threw his second 30-pitch simulated game Thursday morning and pronounced himself ready to turn up the adrenaline and pitch in a game.
He will take part in pitchers’ fielding drills today, throw in the bullpen Saturday and pitch one inning against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
It will be Guardado’s first exhibition outing of spring training after he suffered a strained right hamstring two weeks ago. He pitched in one spring training B game early this month, but hasn’t worked a major league game since he went on the disabled list last Aug. 1 because of a rotator cuff injury to his shoulder.
Guardado says the shoulder is strong and the hamstring is fine, and all that remains is to crank up the energy and face hitters in a real exhibition game.
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