PEORIA, Ariz. -- Ready or not, here comes Cactus League baseball.
With Spring Training's schedule being accelerated to help some players get ready for World Baseball Classic action in early March, the Mariners open Friday with their annual charity game against the Padres at 12:05 p.m. PT at Peoria Stadium.
A year ago, even with the Mariners needing to get going in time to open the regular season in Japan a week before everyone else on March 28, they didn't begin games until March 2.
That led to several intrasquad games prior to the normal Spring Training action, as well as several weeks of full-squad practice. But this year's position players have been in camp only six days -- with one of those hampered by rain -- before the games begin.
"It's pretty crazy," said second baseman Dustin Ackley. "It feels like we've barely had any live batting practice yet. Normally we'd have another week or so before we start. But I think you just have to dive right in. It's one of those things where you're going to have to hit off a pitcher in a live game at some point, so why not tomorrow?"
Manager Eric Wedge said he'll take things slowly at the start. Pitchers will go just one inning each, with position players slated for one or two at-bats and a couple innings.
His goals for now are pretty simple.
"Just stay healthy early on and not try to do too much, especially with the young kids," Wedge said. "I'm happy we've got more games than normal this year, with the quality of players we have in camp and all the young starting pitching, as well as people competing for those couple spots in our rotation here, we can utilize these extra games and do everything we need to do."
From a pitcher's standpoint, things are a little easier, as the hurlers have been in camp four days longer and everyone who pitches this weekend will have thrown two bullpen session and two live batting practices.
"Everybody thinks the first 10 days have gone by pretty quick," said lefty reliever Charlie Furbush. "But it'll be good to get in there and get the competition going and get that game-ready mentality. It puts you pretty much in the place you need to be at this point.
"Live BP is one thing, but once you get in the game with the crowd and the umpire and the hitter and everyone involved, it's much more exciting and your adrenaline gets pumping a little bit."
Ackley, Ryan to sit out first few spring games
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Second baseman Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brendan Ryan, both coming back from arthroscopic surgeries to remove bone spurs over the offseason, will be held out of the Mariners' first three Cactus League games this weekend.
"We're just going to give them a little more time," said manager Eric Wedge. "They're practicing well and doing a nice job, but I think it's important just to give them a little more time."
Ryan had bone spurs removed from his throwing elbow and Ackley had the same done to his left ankle the day after last season ended. Both have fully participated in the early work at camp.
But holding them back initially means newly acquired Robert Andino figures to get plenty of time right from the start, as he's the primary backup at both middle-infield positions.
"Everybody is going to get a lot of work," Wedge said. "But I've been very impressed with Robert on both sides of the ball. I've been impressed with how he's moved around in the infield.
"He has a live bat, obviously he's had some experience and some success. Fundamentally he seems sound. We're working through these drills, and he knows what he needs to do and where he needs to be. All those things have stuck out to me."
Wells needs to make his mark in camp
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When the Mariners brought in a host of new outfielders this offseason, it created a bit of a logjam for returning players like Casper Wells. But while newcomers Michael Morse, Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez have gotten much of the early attention, Wells has quietly gone about his work getting ready for the start of Cactus League play.
"This is the fun part," Wells said Thursday. "Let's get it going."
Wells will need to make a mark in Spring Training to give himself a shot. When the squad held outfield cutoff drills on Thursday, the main field had Morse and Bay taking turns in left field, Franklin Gutierrez patrolling center and Michael Saunders and Ibanez splitting time in right.
Wells and the other outfielders were on a second field doing their work. But when live batting practice rolled around, the 28-year-old was hitting the ball as well or better than anyone has in the initial days of camp.
"I felt kind of locked in today," Wells said. "It's just seeing the pitches and slowing the ball down. We'll see tomorrow when we face an opponent. It's a little different when you hop in there and face live pitching.
"You don't get a lot of swings, so I try to make the most of it, even in BP. Then you feel more comfortable when you get into a game situation, you don't feel like you're rushing to catch up. You just stay relaxed and allow your eyes to adjust and see the ball."
As for those eyes? Wells had Lasik eye surgery this offseason and is interested to see if that makes any difference.
"I feel good," he said. "It's nothing like, 'Oh, wow, now I can see.' I was wearing contacts before, so nothing has really changed except it's a little more convenient. But it's nice not having to worry about having something in my eye."
With no Minor League options remaining, Wells will have to make the final 25-man roster or be exposed to waivers, so this spring figures to be an interesting one for him. Two other outfielders in that same boat -- Trayvon Robinson and Mike Carp -- have both been traded.
• Hector Noesi is slated to start Friday's Cactus League opener against the Padres. Also tentatively scheduled to pitch are Oliver Perez, D.J. Mitchell, Andrew Carraway, Chance Ruffin, Logan Bawcom, Anthony Fernandez, Brian Moran and Danny Farquhar.
Saturday's pitching rotation against the Padres is tentatively set at Blake Beavan, Kameron Loe, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Bobby LaFromboise, Carson Smith, Jonathan Arias and Jhonny Nunez.
Then comes Sunday -- again against the Padres -- with an expected rotation of Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Tom Wilhelmsen, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, Josh Kinney, Lucas Luetge and Yoervis Medina.
• All three weekend games against the Padres will be broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle starting at 12:05 p.m. PT, with Rick Rizzs and his new partner, Aaron Goldsmith, calling the action.