2/18/2014 7:31 P.M. ET
Franklin embraces challenge of return to short
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Nick Franklin knows he won't be the Mariners' starting second baseman this season, not with Robinson Cano now in the fold. But the 22-year-old arrived at Spring Training looking stronger and feeling confident that things will work out for him if he does his part during camp.
"When they first signed him, I knew I couldn't control anything," said Franklin, who started 90 games at second base last year as a rookie. "All I can do is come out here and compete. If I can just have fun and enjoy my time and get familiar with the new faces, then we'll come together as a team and it'll work itself out."
Franklin said he weighed in at 192 pounds, down from 198 last year, but has added upper-body strength after an offseason working out at home in Florida.
Franklin worked at shortstop alongside Brad Miller on Tuesday in the first day of full-squad drills, and the youngsters figure to compete all spring for that starting job. He said he felt good being back at the position he grew up playing, as the Mariners drafted him as a shortstop out of Lake Brantley (Fla.) High School with a first-round pick in 2009.
"I felt comfortable there," Franklin said. "I worked with Barry Larkin a couple days this offseason in Windermere [Fla.]. He's a Hall of Famer, so that was huge. That was good help, and I'm looking forward to just coming along and hopefully making the team this spring."
Franklin and Miller both have Minor League options remaining, so whoever doesn't win the job could well wind up back in Triple-A Tacoma. Franklin understands the stakes. He got his feet wet last year, hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in 369 at-bats after being called up in late May.
He brings a new comfort level to camp this spring, along with his leaner physique.
"Last year, when I was at this point, I was more all eyes and ears," Franklin said. "Now I feel a lot more comfortable, just the fact that I've been through it. This year I'm going in with a better mindset and as a better player."
Yet nothing will come easy. Miller also is a well-regarded youngster who played 76 games at short last year and hit .265 with eight home runs and 36 RBIs.
"There's a lot of talent here and a lot of competition," Franklin said. "More than anything, I just have to go out there and play the game."
McClendon's first Mariners camp in full swing
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Manager Lloyd McClendon has wasted little time setting his own tone in his first Mariners camp. He let Seattle's young players know pressure is on them to perform, and he sharply defended new second baseman Robinson Cano against criticism from his former batting coach with the Yankees.
But one thing McClendon didn't do was gather his entire team together for a big full-squad pep talk before taking the field for the first time as a group on Tuesday.
"I don't talk to my team as a whole," McClendon said. "Today, I'll meet with my infielders. Tomorrow, I'll meet with the outfielders. I've already met with my pitchers and catchers. I just do it that way because you've get 65 guys out there.
"I'm not that far removed from being a player," he said. "You've got things on your mind other than what the manager is saying to 65 guys. Most of the time, the 25 guys that need to hear it are not listening. I just want to look them in the eye and make sure they understand the message."
Most managers do the full-team sermon on the mound or in the clubhouse prior to opening workouts, and McClendon did as well when he managed the Pirates from 2001-05. But he watched Jim Leyland take the smaller-group approach the past eight years in Detroit and has adapted that for himself.
"When I played, guys always met as a whole on the field," he said. "I was one of those guys in the back trying to recover from the night before. So I didn't always hear what the manager had to say. It's something Jim started in Detroit, and I thought it was pretty good. I said if I ever got the opportunity again, I'd certainly do it that way, and so far it's worked pretty good for us."
And just in case anybody isn't hearing him, McClendon has repeated one theme to the media several times in the past few days.
"Part of the message is: I love you, but if you can't get it done, I'll get somebody that can," he said. "I'll repeat it again: We're not in the developing stage. We're here to win. We'll develop in the Minor Leagues, but at this level, we want to win. So we have to shore up all our shortcomings, and we have to get it done in a short period of time."
• Mariners hitters took batting practice against coaches on Tuesday and will do the same Wednesday before starting live batting practice against pitchers on Thursday.
Tuesday's workout also included a "fundamental session" that focused on fielding bunts. McClendon said a different fundamental will be stressed each day.
• All 68 players were in camp for the start of full-squad workouts, including right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez, who missed the five days of pitchers-and-catchers work while clearing up a visa issue in the Dominican Republic.
• Logan Morrison worked at first base during infield drills, along with incumbent starter Justin Smoak. Cano and Willie Bloomquist were the second basemen on the main field for the infield session, with Miller and Franklin at shortstop and Kyle Seager working by himself at third.Corey Hart worked with the outfielders.