Center fielder Leonys Martin arrived Wednesday in Mariners’ camp to widespread needling at his excused absence. He accepted it all. This is where he wanted to be.
Martin spent Tuesday in Miami, where he testified in the federal trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who are charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling.
"At some point, it gave me a little bit of stress," Martin admitted. "This case has been (going on) for a little bit. It was a tough process for me and my family. I hope this gets over real soon."
Martin left Cuba illegally in 2010 and established residency in Mexico before signing a five-year deal with Texas in April 2011 for $15.5 million. He was traded to the Mariners on Nov. 16, 2015.
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His first year in the Northwest produced a bounce-back season that included a career-high 15 homers. That power, he declared, wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
"It was good that I hit 15 homers," he said, "but that’s not part of my game. I want to do better. I want to stay focused on my at-bats. I have to remember what kind of player I am.
"Play my game. Try to get my on-base percentage a little bit higher. Try to steal 30 or 40 bases. Get on base. Try to create rallies and score runs. That’s my game. I don’t need to think about homers. That’s not my game."
The Mariners are favored to sign two of the Caribbean’s top international prospects this year, according to Baseball America.
The two are Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez, who has a "compact right-handed swing," and Venezuelan shortstop Juan Querecuto.
Rodriguez, 16, is 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds. He is expected to take part in a two-day international showcase that began Wednesday in the Dominican.
The international signing period begins July 2 and is subject this year to new hard-spending caps, which resulted from the recent labor agreement.
The Mariners are one of 16 clubs with $4.75 million in their spending pool. Six clubs have $5.25 million, and eight clubs have $5.75 million.
CISHEK: NO PROBLEMS
Veteran reliever Steve Cishek reported no day-after problems after testing his repaired hip Tuesday by playing catch this spring for the first time. He made 25 throws from 60 feet — approximately the distance from the mound to the plate.
Tentative plans call for Cishek to play catch again Thursday but remains on a day-to-day evaluation schedule. There is no timetable for his first attempt to throw from the mound.
Cishek, 30, underwent surgery Oct. 12 to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. While the Mariners haven’t ruled out the possibility that he will be ready for opening day, a mid-April return looms as a more-likely possibility.
Triple-A Tacoma and the Mariners’ three other full-season affiliates open their 14-game spring schedules March 18 against Kansas City affiliates.
The Rainiers and Double-A Arkansas will play their Royals’ counterparts in Peoria, while Hi-A Modesto and Lo-A Clinton will travel to Surprise. All games begin at 1 p.m.
All four affiliates always play the same opponent. Tacoma and Arkansas play in the same location as do Modesto and Clinton. Full-squad drills for minor-league clubs begin March 13.
March 18: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 19: at Chicago White Sox (Glendale).
March 20: at Texas (Surprise).
March 21: San Diego (Peoria).
March 22: at Kansas City (Surprise).
March 23: Texas (Peoria).
March 24: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 25: at Texas (Surprise).
March 26: Camp day.
March 27: Kansas City (Peoria).
March 28: at Texas (Surprise).
March 29: San Diego (Peoria).
March 30: at Los Angeles Dodgers (Glendale).
March 31: Milwaukee (Peoria).
April 1: at San Diego (Peoria).
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners