PEORIA, Ariz. -- Two weeks remain in Spring Training, and manager Mike Hargrove says that health is the most important issue. "It has been a good camp, and I don't know that we need to accomplish anything [specific]," Hargrove said on Saturday. "We need to continue what we're doing. The attitude of this club is good, the atmosphere in the clubhouse is good and the work habits are good. "We just need to stay healthy."More
A potential dark cloud was avoided with the news that closer J.J. Putz's right elbow is structurally fine and that he should be returning to action in time to prepare himself for the regular-season opener, on April 2 against the Athletics at Safeco Field. And right fielder Jose Guillen returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing two games because of sore ribs. He was the designated hitter, but eventually will return to right field on a full-time basis. Catch as catch can: Kenji Johjima is 0-for-7 against basestealers so far this spring, but it's the angle from which he throws that's causing some head-scratching. Johjima has a tendency to throw sidearm, which creates more ball movement and less accuracy. "We're trying to get him to throw more 'over the top,' " said John McLaren, the Mariners' bench and catching coach. "It's something we've talked about, but he has been [throwing sidearm] for so long, it's a tough habit to break." Johjima uncorked a throw to second base during Friday's Cactus League game against the Royals that could have injured second baseman Jose Lopez. "He got rid of the ball in 1.89 seconds, which is exceptional," McLaren said. "And he had good velocity on the ball. But he had an arm slot that we want to change. Throwing directly overhead would give him a more consistent release point." Lopez, covering second on the play, had to lunge to his left to catch the ball, and his left hand collided with the base runner. Fortunately, he wasn't injured, but he needed a few moments to make sure. "When the ball tails into a runner on the first-base side of the bag like that, bad things can happen," McLaren said. McLaren added that he would continue working with Johjima, who threw out 22 of 79 potential thieves last season, but doesn't want to overdo it.
"We don't want to give him a sore arm."Former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson had similar throwing difficulties early in his career. "I remember right after we got him from the Reds, Lou Piniella called me and said Danny was having trouble throwing down in Puerto Rico," McLaren said. "I went down and worked with him, and as soon as he started 'loading up' and throwing over the top, he was fine. 'Joh' is the same. It's not going to be an overnight process, but we feel comfortable that he'll be fine. "We want his quickness and arm strength to work together." Jam session: Michael "Jam" Spears captured first place in the semi-annual "Clubbie Olympics." Spears, a clubhouse fixture for nearly 30 years, won the all-around contest, 22-15, over Pete "Mule" Fortune. Rob Reagle and Billy Sepich finished third and fourth, respectively. Participants received points for pitching accuracy, a home run derby, pop flies and a 300-yard shuttle run. "One of our major goals this camp was to get great work done and allow our athletes to showcase their physical prowess," general manager Bill Bavasi said in a prepared statement. "This competition accomplished none of that."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less