03/02/2013 7:15 PM ET
Coaches take notice as Peguero finds stride
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The measurables are there for Carlos Peguero. It's the performance that has been more of an enigma. Peguero, Seattle's massive outfielder, has come into his own in recent seasons and he's causing a stir in Spring Training by leveraging all of his impressive talent.
Peguero, listed at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, has taken the long route through the Seattle system, signing as a 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic and slowly progressing through each level. But it's his mastery of Triple-A -- at the advanced age of 25 -- and a hot spring that is earning him notice.
Peguero batted .285 with 21 home runs for Triple-A Tacoma last season, and he's hitting .429 with three home runs this spring. Peguero even made two highlight-reel catches in Friday's game, and manager Eric Wedge said that the youngster is doing his best to make a case to stick with the Mariners.
"There's so much power and athleticism there for a big guy," Wedge said. "He's off to a great start."
Peguero came on as a substitute and scored a run in Seattle's 9-5 victory over the Dodgers Saturday, but the day was mostly a quiet one. Hours before, he spoke about his hot streak and what it could mean for his future, and he lauded Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales for being positive role models.
Peguero has gotten his big league chance before, but he's never really produced. The 26-year-old has gotten a look in each of the last two seasons, but he's batted .191 in 212 big league at-bats. This year, for whatever reason, everything is clicking, and Peguero doesn't want to overanalyze it.
"I worked hard in the Dominican this winter, and I played Winter League there too," Peguero said. "I started doing what I'm trying to do here: just being patient at the plate and trying to hit my pitch. Not trying to hit two or three pitches each at-bat, just trying to hit one and make good contact on it."
Peguero said it's been a learning experience just to be in camp with the big league team, and he said his main job is to be patient and consistent, to iron out erratic swings in performance. If he can do that, he said, he'll go a long way toward realizing his potential and cracking the big league barrier.
"I don't think about it," Peguero said. "I want to make the team, because every player's dream is to be in the big leagues and to stay there. I want to make the team and I want to play in the big leagues, but it's not my decision. I just try to improve in the field, and I know exactly what they want from me."
Seattle may get to take a long look at Peguero over the next week or two, because center fielder Michael Saunders is leaving camp to play with Canada in the World Baseball Classic. That move -- and days off for other regulars -- could wind up giving Wedge a chance to play Peguero more regularly.
"We've got competition all over the place," Wedge said Friday on whether Peguero has a shot to break camp with the club. "We're not counting anybody out. We feel we've got 61 players here in camp that are all good enough to be in the big leagues, and you can't say that every year."
Felix to throw live BP Sunday, start Thursday
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Felix Hernandez will throw a live batting practice session Sunday, and he's scheduled to pitch in his first Spring Training game Thursday. The Mariners have two split-squad games Thursday -- one against the Royals and one against the A's -- and Hernandez will likely face Kansas City.
Pitching coach Carl Willis said that Seattle's ace will go for an intense workout on Sunday. Willis also said that Hernandez will throw 35 to 40 pitches in his first Spring Training game, and he contends that the former American League Cy Young Award winner has plenty of time to get ready.
"It seems like everyone is under the impression that he's behind," Willis said. "We started games on Feb. 22. He didn't need to start that soon. He'll be to 95-100 pitches by the time we get out of camp. ... He's basically on the same schedule he's been on; not necessarily last year because of the Japan trip, but the previous two years. It's the same timetable."
The Mariners are set to open their season on April 1 against the A's, and Hernandez has always been ready in the past. Last year, the veteran made his first start on March 28, and he made his season debut on April 1 in 2011. He made his first start on April 5 in '10 and on April 6 in '09.
Hernandez has made five Opening Day starts for Seattle, including each of the last four years. Four of those five games have come against Oakland. Hernandez has completed at least eight innings in four of his five Opening Day starts, and he's posted a 3-0 record with a 1.59 ERA in the season's first game.
Andino out to prove himself to new team
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robert Andino had finally established himself, proving his worth to a team that had gone from also-ran to a surprising shot at contention. And now he has to do it again. Andino, who came over to Seattle in a trade from Baltimore last winter, is ready for the challenge.
"It came as a little shock, but it's in the past," said Andino of being traded to Seattle. "I'm here just trying to fit in and getting to know all the guys. It's a new beginning. It's always good to start fresh."
Andino, just 28 years old, had been traded once before. The infielder was originally drafted by his hometown team, the Marlins, and sent to Baltimore in a 2009 Spring Training trade.
The youngster had only played in 79 games at that point, and he wanted nothing more than a chance to prove himself. Baltimore provided that opportunity and Andino capitalized, logging 360 games over the last four years and carving out a role as a utility infielder who can play the light side of a platoon.
Andino batted just .211 last season, though -- 28 points below his career numbers as an Oriole -- and the Mariners acquired him in exchange for outfielder Trayvon Robinson. Now, Andino is trying to prove himself to a new team while battling for playing time with infielders such as Brendan Ryan and Dustin Ackley.
"He's a great complement to the guys we have here," said Seattle manager Eric Wedge. "He's still working his way in here with this particular club, but he's a good ballplayer."
Andino started at shortstop and helped turn a key double play in the early innings on Saturday, and he said before the game that he's willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. He's even added the outfield to his resume in recent seasons, a testament to his versatility and athleticism.
"I just want to win. That's all that's on my mind," Andino said. "I see something good happening here. We've got a great group of guys, veterans and good young talent. We're an underdog this year, just like we were an underdog in Baltimore last year. If we do what we're supposed to do, we'll be all right."
• Seattle catcher Mike Zunino homered Saturday, and he was also named one of 15 semifinalists for the 83rd annual AAU James E. Sullivan Award, which is presented to the nation's top amateur athlete.
Zunino, who played his college ball at the University of Florida prior to being drafted, has also won the Golden Spikes Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Johnny Bench Award.
• Joe Saunders will make his first spring start for the Mariners on Sunday against the Rangers at Surprise Stadium, and the southpaw will match up against Texas starter Justin Grimm.
Hector Noesi is expected to throw two innings in relief, and the Mariners are also expected to call on Josh Kinney, Carson Smith and Jonathan Arias to provide innings later in the game.
• Michael Saunders (Canada), Oliver Perez (Mexico) and Alex Liddi (Italy) will all leave the club after Sunday's game to play with their respective World Baseball Classic teams.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.