Peterson powers up in Mariners' spring opener

Peterson powers up in Mariners' spring opener

PEORIA, Ariz. -- As the Mariners' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, there are a lot of eyes on D.J. Peterson as he goes through his first Major League camp this spring.

And the young third-base prospect didn't disappoint when he launched a home run on his initial at-bat in the first inning of Seattle's 4-3 win in 10 innings over the Padres on Wednesday in the Cactus League opener.

The 23-year-old Peterson smoked a 1-2 pitch by Padres lefty Jason Lane over the left-field fence at Peoria Sports Complex, getting the Mariners off to a quick 1-0 lead.

"Just kind of getting the jitters out," Peterson said. "I wasn't trying to do that. It just kind of happened. I was just trying to hit a line drive and make good contact. It's so early that I'm not trying to do too much, just get base hits and square it up and make good contact."

Peterson wound up going 1-for-5 as he played the entire game, starting at designated hitter before coming in at third base in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement after first baseman Ji-Man Choi broke his right fibula.

Noel scores tying run on error

That late change left Peterson shaking his head after he dropped a pop fly in front of the Mariners' dugout in the 10th.

"I'll think about that one when I sleep," he said. "But there were a lot of young guys out here today and they all did good."

Indeed, manager Lloyd McClendon went with a youthful lineup in his spring opener against a veteran Padres lineup and still came out on top. Peterson drew notice for his bomb, but he wasn't alone.

"This kid has some talent," McClendon said. "He knows what he's doing in the [batter's] box and he didn't disappoint today. But I saw a lot of good things from a lot of good players. [Jordy] Lara was impressive, [Patrick] Kivlehan was impressive, [John] Hicks behind the plate, [Mike] Dowd had a good game, [Jesus] Montero had two hits. They all played extremely well."

Dowd's go-ahead single

None of those youngsters are likely to make the Mariners' 25-man roster when camp breaks in a month, but they're all gaining valuable experience and building for the future. Peterson, ranked as the No. 50 prospect overall by, sits at the top of that group after hitting .297 with 31 homers and 111 RBIs while splitting last season between Class A Advanced High Desert and Double-A Jackson.

Now, Peterson is just soaking up the experience of his first big league camp and seeing what comes next.

"I feel good," he said. "The locker room is pretty welcoming. It's kind of a live group in there, so it's been an easy transition over from the Minor League side to here. All the guys are good guys and just doing nothing but giving me pointers and how to help me progress my game."

The key now is finding his spot. Peterson played first and third base in camp and is open to any position that gets him in the lineup.

"I don't know where I'll end up by the end of my career," Peterson said. "I just want to contribute and eventually help the big league club."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.