The Phillies played Florida St. on Wednesday and there were three more exhibitions between Florida-based MLB teams and colleges today, but the spring season officially started later in the afternoon, with the Mariners and A’s squaring off in the Cactus League opener.
As one would assume with such noted powerhouses playing each other, there were six homers in the game, five delivered by the mighty Mariners on their way to an 8-5 victory. Michael Saunders, who could be the early season replacement for Franklin Gutierrez in center, started it off with a two-run shot off Graham Godfrey in the second. Carlos Peguero, Luis Rodriguez, Jesus Montero and Johermyn Chavez also left the yard in the game.
Utilityman Eric Sogard hit the lone homer for the A’s.
Montero was involved in a scary moment a half-inning after hitting his homer, as he went to the ground after taking a foul tip to the face. He was down for a couple of minutes and he left the game, but reports indicated that he was fine afterwards.
Montero, a catcher in the Yankees’ minor league system, will be the Mariners’ primary DH this season, but he could catch once or twice a week, too.
Also of note from the game was that Manny Ramirez hit cleanup for the A’s and went 0-for-2. And old friend Oliver Perez, launching a long shot bid to make the Mariners as a reliever, allowed one hit in a scoreless fourth inning.
The Giants announced on Tuesday the hiring of Gabe Kapler as manager. Kapler, filling the extremely large shoes of future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, inked a three-year deal, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Kapler was one of three finalists for the job, beating out Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quataro.
Following his 12-year playing career, Kapler was a coach for Israel’s team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He then became an analyst for FS1 before joining the Dodgers’ front office as the director of player development in November 2014. He was involved in three scandals there: one in which he tried to handle a sexual assault incident involving two Dodgers minor league players without telling police, one in which he allegedly discriminated against Nick Francona, a veteran and former baseball operations employee, and an incident that implicated most of the Dodgers’ front office concerning the recruiting of international free agents. The Dodgers reportedly kept a spreadsheet of employees and their level of criminality.
Despite Kapler’s background, the Phillies hired him as their manager ahead of the 2018 season. He would lead the Phillies to an 80-82 record that year and then helped them improve by one game in 2019, finishing at exactly .500 before being fired. Kapler’s tenure in Philly was tumultuous, often drawing ire from the local media and subsequently the fan base for not being tough enough on his players. The Phillies also reportedly had a clubhouse issue in 2018 in which players were playing video games in the clubhouse during games, prompting Carlos Santana to smash a TV with a bat.
Kapler has a history with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ president of baseball operations. They worked together in the Dodgers’ front office as Zaidi served as GM from November 2014-18.