3/13/2013 1:00 P.M. ET
Mariners have fun with latest TV commercials
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Raul Ibanez isn't just a veteran player on the Mariners this spring. He's also a veteran now of a half-dozen Mariners television commercials, including a role in one of the new spots released Wednesday morning for the upcoming 2013 season.
Of course, Ibanez laughs when talking about his acting abilities. Like most of the Mariners, he loves taking part in the 30-second productions. But, no, he's not about to quit his day job.
"The one this year was kind of a role where I had the deer-in-the-headlights look," Ibanez said. "And I understand that look really well. I have that look naturally. They said, 'Pretend you're lost.' And I said, 'Hey, I can do that one!'"
Ibanez and eight other Mariners players, plus manager Eric Wedge, filmed the new commercials early this Spring Training, often shaking their heads at the wacky storylines and ideas that producers tossed their way.
The six commercials can be viewed on Mariners.com and will be played throughout the season during television broadcasts.
Shortstop Brendan Ryan and closer Tom Wilhelmsen share their spotlight with a 2,000-pound buffalo, which made for an interesting film session.
"I got out there early enough to meet the buffalo," Wilhelmsen said. "When I felt him breathing on my arm, it was pretty intimidating. He was a big boy and I guess they can be quite violent. The guy was saying, 'I'm the only buffalo tamer in town. Everybody else is dead. Got killed by the buffalo.' That's when I went to the dugout."
Ryan stayed on the field with the big bison, fielding ground balls and shooting scenes in close proximity to "Harvey" for nearly two hours with what the shortstop claimed was little trepidation.
"He had friendly eyes, you know?" Ryan said. "We had a connection. There was an understanding."
Most of the Mariners players just hope fans understand the commercial spots, which are as random as ever. Felix Hernandez abandoned his "Little Felix" partner this year and goes with a "hot sauce" he promotes, along with his fastball.
Dustin Ackley gets burdened down with lucky charms from fans. Michael Morse, Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager unveil some surprising undergarments that help them stay relaxed on the field and Ibanez pops up at the last second for a fan with a magic genie lamp.
Ibanez, 40, got a kick out of doing another Mariners commercial after having been away from the franchise the past four years.
"I love them," Ibanez said. "Those guys do such a good job with these commercials. Even when I was on other teams, I always enjoyed watching them from afar whenever I got a chance. It's like a Mariners tradition. The fans enjoy them and I think the players always look forward to them, too."
For Seager, his first commercial shoot reminded him why he didn't get into acting.
"When you see the script you think, 'Oh, I don't know,'" he said. "But when we got out there and started doing it, Saunders and Morse were pretty funny, so I didn't have to do too much. I just watched them and had fun."
Seager said their shoot took about two hours, during which he gained a new respect for actors, as well as a new set of silk pajamas that provided the punchline to his bit.
"I was kind of walking off the field with them afterward and nobody asked me for them," Seager said with a laugh. "So I just said, 'Hey, I'm taking 'em. These are pretty comfortable.'"
But if you're wondering, no, Ryan didn't take his new friend Harvey home with him.