It finally arrived on Wednesday when Seattle's pitchers and catchers reported to the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona for their annual physicals.
Those same pitchers and catchers will undergo their first workout on Thursday with Seattle's position players set to report on Monday with the first full-squad workout set for Tuesday.
There will certainly be plenty of new faces in camp this spring, and not just because the Mariners have invited 22 non-roster players.
A busy offseason has accounted for seven new faces on the team's active roster -- DH Jose Vidro, right fielder Jose Guillen and pitchers Jeff Weaver, Chris Reitsma, Horacio Ramirez, Miguel Batista and Sean White.
"Change isn't always the best thing," Hargrove said on Wednesday. "In this case, the changes we've been able to make, despite of what some people want to think, are good. They have track records. These guys are going to help. I really believe that. Maybe it will change the attitude of the pitching staff. We'll see where it goes."
Weaver, Ramirez and Batista were additions made to bolster a starting rotation that had three vacancies after the Mariners didn't tender Joel Pineiro a contract and after letting Gil Meche walk into free agency. Hargrove believes the addition of Weaver and Batista can help the staff eat up more innings, giving the bullpen a breather.
"I expect to get more consistent innings out of our starters," he said. "The guys we brought in, along with the guys we have here, as long as they stay healthy, are big-inning guys. That will take the pressure off our bullpen and allow us not to use two, three and four guys a night to get to J.J. [Putz]. If they pitch deep into the game, it's good for everyone."
Hargrove feels that those new faces combined with returning veterans such as Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Ichiro Suzuki and up-and-coming players Felix Hernandez, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jose Lopez make the Mariners a team to watch in 2007.
He was encouraged by the team's nine-game improvement from 2005 and the way Seattle played after a miserable 0-11 stretch in August against division foes.
Now, he said, it's time to make another jump. And that all began on Wednesday.
"We feel like we had a good season last year -- notwithstanding the 11-game debacle," Hargrove said. "We were able to establish a winning attitude here, an attitude where when we take the field every day, we expect to win that ballgame.
"A lot of people pay lip service to that, but there's a difference between saying it and believing it. Our players, certainly by the end of the year, got to that point and got over that point."
In addition to pitchers and catchers, several position players were in the clubhouse on Wednesday, including Willie Bloomquist, Ben Broussard, Jeremy Reed, Rene Rivera and Lopez.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.