The promise of the Mariners' 76-86 finish in 1982 dissipated quickly last season amid early-season failures (the team lost 20 of its first 30 games) and management squabbles (manager Rene Lachemann was fired in June and G.M. Dan O'Brien was forced out in October). Seattle ended the year 60-102, proving that the club was actually the Sub-Mariners. In fact, they should have called the highlight film Das Boot.
Now, the Mariners are making an effort to recapture the fans. Bumbling owner George Argyros has slipped into the background, and Chuck Armstrong, one of Argyros' real-estate executives, and former farm director Hal Keller are in charge. They weren't timid traders, shipping ace reliever Bill Caudill to Oakland for catcher Bob Kearney and reliever Dave Beard, and sending lefthander Bryan Clark to Toronto for outfielder Barry Bonnell.
Seattle's other major acquisition wants it known that he's no longer a pouting Thomas. Seattle, says Gorman Thomas, gives him a chance to prove a lot of people wrong, following a subpar '83 season in which he had 22 homers, 69 RBIs and a .209 average with Milwaukee and Cleveland. In a way, Thomas has passed this way before, because he was the first draft choice of the Brewers' forerunner, the Seattle Pilots, in 1969. Thomas insists he has recovered from the shock of no longer being a Brewer, even though he placed a floor mat with the Brewers' logo in front of his spring-training locker.
The Mariners were worried early in camp when they discovered that Thomas' ailing right shoulder had a slight tear in the rotator cuff, but Thomas says he has been hurting there for seven years. "The only difference from the past is that now it's been officially diagnosed as a tear," he says. "I had always called it a sore shoulder." Thomas didn't throw for the first 12 days this spring and will play this season in leftfield instead of center.
The surprise of the spring was rookie outfielder Phil Bradley, the three-time All-Big Eight quarterback from Missouri and Silver Glove winner at Class AAA Salt Lake in 1983, who through Sunday had hit .452 in spring games.
Two other rookies who will help the Mariners are Darnell Coles, who hit .316 at Salt Lake last year and will start at third, and lefthander Mark Langston, who was 14-9 with Class AA Chattanooga. Langston gave up only four hits and no runs in his first 14 innings this spring, winning a job the same way lefty Matt Young did in '83. Langston and Young will be joined by righthanders Jim Beattie, Mike Moore and Bob Stoddard—not a bad rotation. Even so, the Mariners are still stuck in Davy Jones's locker.
At least the Mariners were consistent: They were an identical 30-51 at home and away, largely because of a big league low of 536 RBIs—not even 3½ per game. The M's also set an AL mark with 16 balks. They were the only team in the bigs not to lose a doubleheader game, but for a good reason: They didn't play any twin bills.