Inbox: The deal with Rowland-Smith's glove
Beat reporter Jim Street fields Mariners fans' questions
The season is a little more than two weeks old, and the grind of a 162-game campaign is under way. As the year progresses, key questions will need to be answered. Speaking of questions, if you have any, send them in and we'll do our best to answer as many as possible.I have noticed that Ryan Rowland-Smith has his name written in Japanese on his glove. Is that Ichiro Suzuki-influenced and does anybody else on the team have that?
-- Joel R., Yakima, Wash. You have really good eyes, Joel. Rowland-Smith told me that has used gloves from the Japan-based Zett Company for a couple of years now, and this is the first year he had his last name spelled out in Japanese. He explained that the company sent him an e-mail last offseason showing him what his name would look like in Japanese. He liked it and decided to use it on his glove this season "because it was something different." Rowland-Smith said he checked with Ichiro during Spring Training to make sure that it actually is his last name. He's happy to report that it is. Are the Mariners using the Axe bats at Spring Training at all?
-- Cole S., Olympia, Wash. According to clubhouse manager Ted Walsh, several players used the Axe bat during Spring Training, but no one is using them during the regular season. Catcher Rob Johnson tested the bats in Peoria, Ariz., but said he has not used one in a real game because he believes the bat is not "defined" yet, and he still doesn't feel comfortable using one. Instead of the customary "knob" at the end of the bat, the Axe bat has an axe handle. You said recently that the trade for Erik Bedard was the worst in Mariners history. But let's say that Bedard comes back from his shoulder surgery and is a major contributor in leading the Mariners to their first World Series championship. Would that trade which brought him here in the first place still be considered bad?
-- Josh C., Pasco, Wash.
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I don't recall saying it was "the" worst trade, but one of the worst. When I said that, I didn't expect the Mariners to re-sign him for this season, because I didn't anticipate him agreeing to a contract with such a low ($1.5 million) base salary.If the Mariners win the World Series and Bedard is a major contributor, I will have to change my opinion of the deal and apologize to whomever made that trade, however, the trade portion of his contribution is over, as he is a free-agent acquisition now. I would like to know what the record is (if one exists) for the least amount of errors committed in a season? On paper, the Mariners look like the best defensive team ever.
-- Chris C., Boise The Major League record for fewest errors by a team during a 162-game schedule is 65, set by the Mariners in 2003. It broke the previous record of 68 by the Mets in 1999. The Mariners' record-setting team included Gold Glove Award winners John Olerud (three errors in 1,221 total chances) at first base, Bret Boone (seven errors in 694 total chances) at second base, Mike Cameron (four errors in 488 total chances) and Ichiro (two errors in 349 total chances). The foursome set a franchise record for most Gold Gloves in a single season. The previous high was three, in '02 when Boone, Olerud and Ichiro were selected by opposing managers and coaches as the best defenders at their respective positions. What is the latest on Josh Fields? When the Mariners drafted him a few years ago out of the University of Georgia, he was supposed to be a year or so away from being a Major League ready closer. What happened to that mentality and what are reasonable expectations for him now seeing as the Mariners have a solid closer in David Aardsma?
-- Justin B., Tacoma, Wash. Fields, the Mariners' first-round Draft choice (20th overall) in 2008, currently is playing for Double-A West Tennessee. Through Wednesday night, he had a record of 1-0 and a 2.00 ERA in five appearances covering nine innings. A prolonged holdout after being selected in the June Draft, Fields missed all of the '08 season, and it set him back more than he could have imagined. He has admitted that it did more damage than he expected, and it could be another year or two before he reaches the big leagues. As long as Aardsma stays healthy and effective, he will handle the closer duties, and I would expect Fields to eventually break in as a late-inning setup man before moving into the high-pressure closer job. He will be 25 years old on Aug. 19, and Aardsma is just 28. I remember watching a Mariners game some time ago when Mark Whiten was part of the team and he hit a home run at Minnesota that I still believe is the longest home run I have ever seen. I remember it hitting above the bleachers in right field, and the broadcasters claimed it was either 425 or 450 feet. I thought at the time that it had to be longer than what they said. Is there any way you could look up the highlights of the game and tell me if the years have changed reality?
-- Justin K., Edon, Ohio I happened to be covering that game for the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and it was one of the hardest balls I ever have seen hit. The ball barely missed a speaker dangling from the Metrodome roof and hit one of the curtains located above the top row of seats in right field. As far as I know, there wasn't an "official" measurement given, but according to my Google research, the longest home run ever hit at the Metrodome was by Tigers outfielder Marcus Thames, a 454-foot blast in 2008. Whiten played only one season (1996) with the Mariners, hitting 12 home runs in 163 at-bats. He hit 150 dingers during his 11-year Major League career. His claim to fame is hitting four home runs and driving in 12 runs for the Cardinals in a game against the Reds on Sept. 7, 1993. He hit a grand slam, two three-run home runs and a two-run home run.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.