PEORIA, Ariz. -- The last time Carlos Guillen was in the Mariners clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex, he was 27 years old and Felix Hernandez was still in the Minor Leagues.
So, yeah, things have changed a bit now with Guillen returning to the Mariners on a Minor League contract with a shot at helping the club as a third-base or designated-hitter candidate.
Guillen, 36, exchanged hugs before Saturday's first full-team workout with Ichiro Suzuki, the only player still on the team from his time in Seattle from 1998-2003. Guillen said it's fun coming back to the place where he started his Major League career before getting traded to the Tigers and earning three American League All-Star berths between 2004-11.
"It's exciting, and I'm very happy," Guillen said. "This is my first team in the big leagues, and I'm really happy because it was great times, a great organization and I have a lot of good memories from the past. I'll just try to do my best.
"There are a lot of different faces, a lot of young guys with good talent. Last year, they were playing pretty good in the first half. That says something, because [for] young guys without experience, that's pretty good."
Guillen played just 28 games last year after the start of his season was delayed by recovery from microfracture knee surgery, and then he went back on the disabled list on Aug. 13 with a wrist injury. He said he's healthy now, even if the left knee is going to require extra rehab.
Guillen said there were other opportunities after he was released by the Tigers, but Seattle made the most sense.
"I decided to come here because this is my first house," said the native of Venezuela. "I know the city, and I'm happy to be back."
Mariners begin full-squad workouts
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Returning outfielder Mike Carp, second baseman Dustin Ackley and new catcher Jesus Montero all displayed some nice power in the first batting practice of Spring Training for the Mariners on Saturday, as the team began full-squad workouts at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Carp, who hit .276 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs after being called up from Triple-A in midseason last year, cleared the tall batter's eye in center field on Field 3 in the training facility, and also dinged a couple cars in the parking lot.
Montero, acquired in the trade that sent Michael Pineda to the Yankees, just missed a truck that was driving past the left-field fence at one point, and also cranked a number of balls over the wall when he wasn't working to the opposite field.
Ackley had his left-handed stroke going strong, while center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and young third baseman Kyle Seager roped numerous line drives in their turns at the plate.
Of course, all this work was done against coaches throwing batting practice. Players will face live pitching for the first time starting Sunday, but manager Eric Wedge did like what he saw from a group of young players that generally looks stronger this season coming into camp.
"I don't think you can come out here and not see a difference, whether defensively, or particularly in the batter's box when they're taking BP," said the second-year skipper. "We're much further along, we're much better, we're going to be a much better offensive ballclub because of the experience we gained last year, some of the additions we made, and not just some of the good, but some of the bad we went through last year."
Gutierrez has fully recovered from last season's digestive issues, and is back to 200 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame after dipping to as low as 175 last season. It showed in his batting session, and he appeared renewed after a difficult 2011.
"He looks great," Wedge said. "Without question he's stronger, and you can see it with his swing at home plate. He's still moving around like he moves in center field. I think he's the best in the game out there. And I really feel strong that he's going to have a heckuva year for us, all around."
Wedge also said he liked the energy of Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who bantered in his native language throughout his first official workout with the team as a utility infield candidate.
When the team did its infield drills, Brendan Ryan and Kawasaki were working at shortstop, with Seager and Chone Figgins at third. Ackley was the lone second baseman in that group, while Justin Smoak and Carlos Guillen were at first. Wedge said the veteran Guillen would also get time at third base as camp progresed.
Outfielder Wilson driven to make Mariners
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Outfielder Mike Wilson, who was designated for assignment 12 days ago by the Mariners, rejoined the club on Saturday after having his contract outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma.
Wilson accepted the Minor League deal and was invited to the big league camp, where position players hit the field for the first time on Saturday. The Mariners now have 67 players in camp, including 27 non-roster invitees.
Wilson, 28, has spent his entire pro career in the Mariners organization and made his Major League debut last year, when he hit .148 in 27 at-bats over eight games in May.
Wilson said he looked into going elsewhere before deciding to stick with the Mariners, who selected him in the second round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft. He was designated for assignment along with catcher Chris Gimenez on Feb. 6 in order to make room on the 40-man roster for free-agent relievers Shawn Camp and Hong-Chih Kuo.
"It's tough, but it's a business and moves have to be made," said Wilson. "All I can do is come back ready to work. I can't stay mad about it. I just have to focus on the ultimate goal of getting back to the big leagues.
"We looked at places, but with the timing and stuff, rosters were already set. That's the toughest thing about it."
Wilson hit .331 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs in 87 games with Tacoma last year, but after 10 years in the Minors, he's itching for a shot at a full-time Major League opportunity.
"Yeah, I'm just trying to get back there," Wilson said. "That's it. Of course there are other teams, but you want to make it with the team you're with."