Reed, Broussard remain upbeat
Fringe players likely will take on lesser roles for Mariners or could be traded
By JOHN HICKEY
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Jeremy Reed and Ben Broussard have less reason than anyone in camp to be pleased with the Mariners' direction.
Reed, the former starting center fielder, and Broussard, the former regular designated hitter, likely will be used in smaller roles this season.
Reed broke a bone in his wrist and missed the last three months of the 2006 season, prompting the shift of All-Star Ichiro Suzuki to center field and the addition of Jose Guillen in right.
Broussard, whose offense fell off dramatically when he was traded from Cleveland to Seattle last summer, has been replaced by veteran Jose Vidro at DH.
Both could complain. Neither has.
"I chose to look at this as a positive," Broussard said. "I've got a job here and I've got a chance to contribute. I can't control what I can't control. And you never know what's going to happen. As long as I'm ready to go, you take what comes."
Broussard, who hit .321 with 13 homers for Cleveland before joining the Mariners, could have made the acquisition of Vidro unnecessary by performing better than his Seattle totals of .238 with eight homers in 164 at-bats. Reed never had the chance to prove himself.
He was injured playing all-out, a style he's not willing to forsake. An outfielder with a habit of running into walls if necessary, Reed broke his wrist diving for a sinking drive hit by Colorado's Brad Hawpe on July 2.
Manager Mike Hargrove tried several outfield combinations without much success until Ichiro volunteered to play the rest of the season in center. Since then, he has agreed to play center field full time.
"Normally, you don't lose your job because of an injury," Hargrove said. "But normally, you don't get replaced by a potential Hall of Famer, either."
Reed isn't cursing the fact he was injured, and he's not giving up.
"I'm more excited than anything just to be able to play," Reed said Monday. "I was out a long time last year and I kept trying to come back. That set me back, but I wanted to play."
Now that he's healthy, he wants to play.
"What I want this spring is to get at-bats and see where my abilities take me," Reed said. "You never know what your role will be. But I have a chance to be on the field and show what I can do."
Reed and Broussard want to stay. But there is a good chance one or even both will be traded during the spring. Center fielders with range and designated hitters with power are valuable commodities.
Both will get plenty of playing time when Cactus League play opens this weekend. If they perform well, their trade value will go up. On the other hand, Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi have acknowledged a need for more bench depth, so a good performance could lead to increased playing time.
Hargrove likes to go with set lineups rather than platooning, and Bavasi has given him a roster with little reliance on pinch hitters.
That isn't preventing Broussard or Reed from planning to contribute offensively this season.
"They haven't seen me for a full spring training yet," Broussard said. "I was the DH last year, and I'd never really done that. They haven't seen me at first base much or in the outfield at all. I've got ways to help, and they'll have to make that evaluation."
The Mariners know plenty about Reed, who has been the primary center fielder since being picked up from Chicago in a midseason trade in 2004.
"I've been blessed with a lot of special abilities," Reed said. "I know that. So I'm not really worried about what will happen now that Ichiro is in center field."
Of the two, Reed is more likely to survive the spring. He doesn't figure to get much playing time, but Ichiro's uncertain future with the team could work in Reed's favor.
If Ichiro can't be signed to a contract extension in the next few months, there is a chance he could leave by trade or as a free agent, and the Mariners will need a center fielder.