Notes: White hoping change is good

Notes: White hoping change is good

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Sean White wasn't a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates long enough to know how he felt about it, though he does not have that quandary with his current team.

On Dec. 7, the right-handed pitcher woke up a member of the Braves organization, only to be selected by the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft. Later that same day, White was traded to the Mariners for cash considerations.

It was enough to make the 25-year-old's head spin, though he was certainly happy with where he landed.

"I wasn't really sure if I would get drafted at all," White said. "I called my agent, who told me I was drafted by the Pirates. About a half-hour later someone called from Seattle and said I was with them. I didn't know what to think, but I was definitely excited."

Excited because a move to a new organization equated to a fresh start for White, but he was also excited because the Mariners were his hometown team.

White is a Mercer Island High School graduate and played his college baseball nearby at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"I watched them, followed them and went to a lot of games," White said of following the Mariners as a kid. "It's exciting to come back."

White was 5-6 with one save and a 4.40 ERA in 21 games last season with Double-A Mississippi, his fourth season in the Braves organization.

He then went 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in five starts for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, which is where Seattle first took notice of him.

Seattle vice president of player personnel Benny Looper said White experienced a spike in velocity that put the team on notice.

"He's a big kid [6-foot-4, 215 pounds] with good life on his fastball," Looper said. "We wouldn't have taken him if we didn't think he could help us."

White threw in the 93-mph range in the regular season but was clocked between 91-96 mph in the Arizona Fall League.

But it wasn't a jump in velocity that encouraged White in Arizona Fall League play. Oddly enough, he was most excited about his slowest pitch.

"I started to use my changeup more," he said. "I've always worked on it, but I never really used it much in a game. I used that time in Arizona to develop it. It was a pitch that I was not real comfortable throwing, but I've become more confident in it."

White status in camp is a little different from many of the other pitchers because he was a Rule 5 pick. Players chosen in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft must remain in the Major Leagues for the entire 2007 season.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Ichiro discusses his camp:  350K
• Washburn on latest start:  350K
• Johjima on new Mariners pitchers:  350K
• Hargrove on Opening Day starter:  350K
• Mariners' White on spring lessons:  350K
• Adam Jones at Mariners camp:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

That means if Seattle opts to option White to the Minor Leagues, the club must first offer him back to his original team for $25,000 -- half of the claiming fee of $50,000.

At this point in camp, White said he's not thinking about that, nor is he placing any extra pressure on himself to be sharp early. Making the team won't be easy, as there's just not a lot of open jobs to be won on the pitching staff.

"Right now, I'm trying to go out there and give it all I can each day," said White, who has a 28-25 career record in the Minor Leagues. "You have to take it a little slow each day. I definitely want to stay here and think I have the ability to perform here."

Ichiro speaks, sort of: Ichiro Suzuki isn't scheduled to report to Spring Training until Monday, when position players report. But he's already done some talking about the upcoming season.

A story in Sunday's Seattle Times quoted Ichiro as saying that he hasn't thought much about his contract status. The center fielder will be a free agent after this season, when the four-year extension he signed after the 2003 season expires.

"I've barely given it any thought," Ichiro told the newspaper from Japan. "That's why I have an agent. I'm simply focused on making this season the best that I can. It's the same goal of every offseason, and I haven't approached this one any differently."

The six-time Gold Glove outfielder will make the full-time conversion to center field this season after playing there for most of final two months of the 2006 season.

Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio, has said he won't approach the Mariners about a contract extension, though Ichiro said in the article that "as far as I know, we haven't said we won't discuss the situation during the season."

Done with pitching: No offense, but Seattle manager Mike Hargrove is finished watching pitchers, well, pitch.

"I'm real ready," Hargrove said when asked if he's ready for position players to report to the Peoria Sports Complex. "Watching pitchers pitch is like watching paint dry. I would much rather watch hitters."

That, not surprisingly, from a former position player.

Hargrove will officially get his wish Monday when position players report, with the first full-squad workout set for Tuesday. Actually, several position players have been in camp for several days.

On Saturday, Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez and Richie Sexson showed up in Peoria. Beltre and Ibanez took batting practice on one of the practice fields.

"It's nice to see guys swing a bat and see where they are," Hargrove said. "Usually, it's not very pretty, but you get an occasional flash."

Beltre said he didn't take as much live batting practice during the offseason as he usually does. Instead, he mixed in more soft toss and flips hitting drills.

Corey Brock is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.