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Milton Bradley, Josh Lueke, Adam Kennedy, Seattle Mariners Report For Spring Training Friday, February 18, 2011

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Bobby Ayala Named “Special” Consultant Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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Photo courtesy ESPN.com

In a surprise announcement Wednesday, team President Chuck Armstrong named former reliever Bobby Ayala a “special” consultant to the Mariners organization.

“We’re excited to give Bobby this opportunity to relive the glory day he once spent in a Mariners uniform,” Armstrong said.  “We expect him to have an impact at all levels in the coming year, and have already had him offering advice this week to our young pitchers as they report here in Peoria.”

New rookies Michael Pineda and Dan Cortes have already gleaned much from the former big leaguer this week.

“He’s a nice enough guy,” Pineda reflected.  “His biggest concern for me was my breaking pitch.  He said it moved too much and would be hard for the catcher to see approaching the plate.”

“Bobby’s a workhorse,” said an exhausted Cortes.  “We ran drills all afternoon on diving out of the way of slow rollers to the mound.  With his help, I’ll be a dominant figure out of the ‘pen, although I’m not sure I can eat as many calories as he recommended daily.”

Armstrong has created a regular role for Ayala at Safeco Field, so fans will have a chance to meet the former bullpen mainstay any time.  He’ll be manning the Auntie Em’s Pretzel stand near the entrance to section 321 on the first base side during all home games.

Mariners Sign Felix’s Brother, Cousin, Aunt, Grandmother To Minor League Deals Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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Photo courtesy scout.com

In a move that was more about making their ace pitcher happy than finding quality talent, the Mariners signed Felix’s older brother Moises Hernandez, 26, to a minor league contract.  Moises has struggled in the minors the past few years, averaging a WHIP even in successful seasons at around 1.4 and an ERA consistently over 4, despite a run-of-the-mill-fastball and an assortment of no other pitches.

To add to what was initially no more than a PR move, the Mariners went on to also sign a number of Felix’s other family members to minor league contracts with Jack Zduriencik quoted as saying, “If Felix can do that well in the majors, even his grandma’s got to have a heck of a fastball.”

But despite Zduriencik’s humurous assertions, Felix’s grandmother, Rosa Ramon Hernandez, is actually being touted as a prospect at shortstop and has already drawn comparisons to Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Smith and Cesar Izturis from her time in the Arizona Rookie League last season.

Also among the signings today were Pedro Hernandez, a speedy outfielder and Felix’s uncle on his father’s side; Lucia Hernandez, Felix’s niece and a power-hitting first baseman with little defensive prowess; and King and Oreo, catching prospects who have been able to handle tennis balls up to 100 mph.

Felix was pleased by the signings and looked forward to seeing many of his family in Arizona this spring.  “I’m just surprised they didn’t sign my great grandmother, too!” he joked.

Eloisa Chavez Ramon, 93, was still waiting for a call back from Scott Boras’ agency at the time of this publication.

New Rookies Realize Mariners Aren’t Minor League Team Friday, February 4, 2011

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Photo courtesy Seattle Times

Spring training is just days away from beginning for the Mariners in Peoria, and a number of young players look to be the focus of this year’s club, especially rookies Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda.  And despite a flood of local media attention on these two youngsters, both were surprised last week to receive a letter inviting them to train for a possible spot on a major league club.

“It was the major league part that confused me, ” Second-base convert and coveted prospect Ackley reported.  “I knew I was going to be competing for a spot higher than Tacoma, but I assumed Seattle was a minor league club, too.  High AA or something like that.”

Right-handed starter Pineda was just as confused.

“It was the letterhead that clued me in,” said Pineda through a club interpreter.  “I knew I was up for a spot in the rotation, but I wish they had told me it was for the majors!”

Both players were of course pleased and excited to have finally made it to “the show,” but this isn’t the first time a major league club has been confused with minor league teams, especially in Seattle.

“Ichiro was the clue in my case,” longtime bench player Michael Saunders said last year.  “I knew how good he was, and I hadn’t heard of a major league club keeping someone down that long, so I knew I must have made it, even if everyone else on the team was playing at my level.”

Even more confusion was had by Jack Wilson, who didn’t make such a realization until his second stint on the disable list last season.

“It was a little embarrassing, but it wasn’t until I checked my bank account that I realized the M’s were giving me millions of dollars instead of thousands,” Wilson confirmed.  “What was really embarrassing, though, is to realize all these years later that Pittsburgh is in the majors too.”

The Mariners also confirmed for this report that they have a stadium in south Seattle named Safeco Field that seats nearly 40,000 people, a membership in the MLB, and a budget of nearly 100 million dollars.