Seattle Mariners

The 2012 Major League Baseball First-Year player draft got underway today, and the Seattle Mariners were afforded the luxury of the 3rd overall pick as a result of their poor finish last season.

With that pick, the Mariners chose catcher Mike Zunino, a junior from the University of Florida. The 21 year old was ranked as the top catcher in the draft, and has been touted as a strong, athletic catcher with excellent power as a hitter. In 62 games with Florida this season, Zunino had a batting average of .312, hitting 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in.

Tony Gutierrez / AP Photo

The Mariners 21-8 victory over the Rangers this week is something to be celebrated. But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it's also an example of the extremes the team has experienced this season.

Tony Gutierrez / AP Photo

The Mariners routed the Texas Rangers last night 21-8. Justin Smoak hit two three-run homers against his former team and the Mariners had two eight-run innings. Jesus Montero homered among his three hits and drove in four runs. And Kyle Seager had four hits and two RBIs.

It was their second win in a row against the AL West-leading Rangers. And you can certainly say the Mariners have been "streaky" lately.

The Associated Press

TOKYO — Now he shows us.

In a game postponed from nine years ago, played 4,800 miles from where he’s hit leadoff for the last 11 years, following up an idea started eight years ago, Ichiro revealed himself to be baseball’s greatest No. 3 hitter.

Ben VanHouten / Mariners

ISHINOMAKI, Japan – Busing swiftly through the detritus of devastation is hardly a good way to get a feeling for the loss, in the space of a few hours, of about 20,000 people from a town of 160,000.

But then, what is a good way to comprehend  the unimaginable?

Matt Ludtke / AP

Seahawks fans like what they're hearing about new quarterback Matt Flynn. Team leaders touted his skills and leadership ability this week.

While the Seahawks welcome an important new player, a veteran player for the Mariners is preparing for a huge homecoming in Japan. 

Matt Ludtke / AP

Fan excitement is building for the Seahawks new quarterback Matt Flynn. Will he really have to compete for the job of starter?

Charlie Riedel / AP Photo

"A strange episode of normalcy."

That's how KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel describes what caused the injury to Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. It happened during a routine throw at spring training.

Gutierrez is out for at least a month - maybe longer - with a partially torn pectoral muscle. Art says it's just the latest piece of negative news for the Mariners, as the team begins its 2012 exhibition season Friday.

Ben Margot / AP Photo

The Mariners start exhibition play Friday. But they'll do it without starting center fielder Franklin Gutierrez. He's out for at least a month with a partial tear of his pectoral muscle.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel talks about what this means for the start of the Mariners season, coming up tomorrow morning at 5:35 and 7:35 on 88.5 KPLU. Check back here for a blog of our conversation.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

We get a bat, but not much else. That's what KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel has to say about the Mariners trading starting pitcher Michael Pineda to the Yankees in exchange for hot young hitter Jesus Montero.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

He was a fan favorite last year. Now he's a Yankee. The Mariners have traded starting pitcher Michael Pineda for Yankees catcher Jesus Montero.

The reason appears to be Montero's bat. He impressed a lot of people at the plate last season.

Find out if KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel is impressed with the trade, tomorrow morning at 5:35 and 7:35 on 88.5 KPLU. Check back here for a blog of our conversation.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

There were some bright spots in the local sports scene in 2011. But not many. Find out what KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel named as the high points and low points of the year.

The Mariners' division rivals, the Angels, made a big move this week. They signed free agent slugger Albert Pujols from the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals to a 10-year contract worth more than $250 million.

There's another big-hitting free agent who's still available: Prince Fielder. The Mariners are among the teams interested in him. But can they pull it off?

"It makes it that much more difficult for everybody in our division."

The words of Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, reacting to news today that the division-rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have signed star free agent Albert Pujols. The Seattle Times reports the Angels signed Pujols to a 10-year contract worth a reported $250 million.

Kevin P. Casey / AP Photo

The Mariners had a dismal 2011 season. They lost more than 90 games for the third time in four years. Attendance hit a new low at Safeco Field.

Now that the season is over, fans are looking ahead to 2012 with a little more optimism. The team has made a lot of young acquisitions who look promising. But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says some old problems remain.

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