Brendan Ryan And What We Know Of Munenori Kawasaki


The one thing that no one ever likes to talk about during Spring Training is injuries. I only know how I personally feel about it and I tend to have this wild and crazy belief that everyone that is in camp will leave spring training all happy, satisfied and feeling good about their prospective season. I could be way off here but I think in general that’s what fans associate spring training as being.  Except that’s hardly the case.

Many (and most) times, teams end up leaving a player behind to continue getting stretched out or even recuperate after an injury. Other times the player joins the team on the road while working on their issues.

Something that struck me the other day as I made my rounds through all the different amazing blogs that are associated with the Seattle Mariners is that this is a very possible scenerio for the Mariners in 2012.  A few days ago I stopped over at Shannon Drayers’ blog and started to ponder Brendan Ryan and his 2012 season with the Mariners. Here is what she had written:

"“When the season ended he knew that he was in for a lot of work to strengthen the area to help decrease the likelihood of a recurrence. He had no idea that he wouldn’t be able to throw when he arrived at spring training.“I did not think it would be an ongoing battle,” he said after practice Wednesday. “This is something that is life changing. I have to watch my posture, I have to be careful lifting weights, at night when my shoulders start to slump I have a special vest to hold them back.”No, it is about maintenance now. The neck, along with upper back and shoulder issues, will improve but there are no guarantees that they will not recur. Ryan has had to adapt a routine that he will need to keep up if he wants to be on the field.“I don’t think I can just roll out of bed and just throw the leather around anymore,” he said.”  – Shannon Drayer"

It kind of worried me. I could be a small majority but I can’t imagine people really care to hear about someone (really anyone) figuring out in spring training that they will have to adjust their entire life because of an injury, especially frustrating is that it occured back in September. I’m not taking a jab at Ryan, I like him a lot –probably more than most—, but it makes you wonder now about how important is Kawasaki to this organization?

The Japanese shortstop has been prominately profiled in many the early spring articles and it’s been implied by a few of those articles that he may have an inside track to the team. Then going over to Tacoma News Tribunes’ Mariners Insider Larry Larue had this little gem just a couple of days later:

"There, out of view of most of the media, Thompson hit ground balls for nearly 20 minutes to Figgins and Kawasaki at shortstop.Wedge said it was just extra work, nothing out of the usual. But nothing quite like it had happened in camp. Getting Figgins reps at shortstop makes sense; the team wants him to play many positions in 2012.Still, he hadn’t taken a single grounder at shortstop until yesterday. And Kawaski, the Japanese import, has taken dozens of balls at short all spring, so keeping him late for extra work was unusual"

I’m not going to lie, I enjoy talking about government cover-ups and conspiracies. Heck, I grew up knowing that as soon as the Mariner game was over the radio, my father was going to an all night stream of Art Bell or “Coast-to-Coast AM”, sending me to bed with visions of UFO’s and other bits of the supernatural dancing in my head.

We can debate whether Ryan is going to be healthy enough to start in Japan, or finish the series in Oakland or even be there at the Safeco home coming. Things could get really interesting in the next couple of weeks. Now I’m sure the team is hoping Ryan is ready and I sure hope he is too. But for now, let’s turn out attention to Kawasaki over the next few weeks. It’s time to learn a little bit about him as he could very well be the Mariners starting shortstop in Tokyo. Things that are important to evaluate such as how cool is his hair? Can he grow an awesome Fu Manchu? What color are his batting gloves? You know the important things.

The fact is what we know about him right now is that he’s a glove first guy. Someone that can put the ball into play and hits from the left side are all interesting things. But they don’t tell us much and it’s really hard to find out if his game will traverse the international gap in anyway.  And while it’s fun to speculate we won’t really know anything until he has close to 200 plate appearances. Even then with players tweaking things and learning how can you even be certain? UZR data isn’t suppose to be helpful without years of back ground data and then there is the fact that spring training stats mean nothing.

So here is what we know about Munenori Kawasaki right now: We may, or may not, be  over stimulated with articles produced in part with information that we can’t even be certain to know whether it actually means anything or not and could even be blatantly wrong. So much for intelligent analysis.