Noah Ramos wasn’t feeling well Friday, but a visit from the Mariner Moose and a couple of Seattle Mariners brightened the 5-year-old’s day.
A gift of a stuffed Moose brought joy to the little boy’s eyes, and there likely was a smile behind his hospital mask.
“He has a way of stealing the show,” Seattle catcher Mike Marjama said of the Moose. “He is really, really good at what he does. He is the mascot of the year. What’s great about him, is he gets to add a dimension that we don’t. To have him with us, and see the kids’ reactions is awesome.”
The stop at Kadlec Regional Medical Center was one of three on the day for the Mariners Caravan on the final day of their Eastern Washington tour.
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The group also visited Emerson Elementary in Pasco and had a meet and greet with fans at Columbia Basin College to finish their Tri-City trip.
Joining the Moose and Marjama on the caravan were left-handed pitcher Marcos Gonzales and longtime broadcaster Mike Blowers.
The caravan had stops in Yakima, Wenatchee, Coeur d’Alene, Spokane and Walla Walla before hitting the Tri-Cities.
“I’ve been every where. I’ve seen it all,” said Marjama, who has been with Seattle since coming over in a trade in August. “It’s nice to see people on their home fields, per say. Everyone is always coming to Seattle to watch us play, so now being able to go out to the communities and see people in their hometowns is really rewarding.
“Our reach is so vast here. We truly are a regional team. Being from California, shoot we have like five teams. To come out here and see how far reaching our fan base is, and the passion of the fans, is really cool to see.”
Marjama, 28, is a native of Roseville, Calif., and played college ball at Long Beach State. He was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2011 Major League Baseball draft by the Chicago White Sox. In 2015, Chicago traded him to Tampa Bay, where he played until he was moved to Seattle.
With the Mariners, Marjama made his major league debut Sept. 1. He hit his first major league home run on Oct. 1 against the Los Angeles Angels.
“I really enjoy it here,” he said. “I spent my whole career on the East Coast. Being a California boy, I really enjoy this area. My first Little League team was the Mariners. I grew up watching Alex Rodriguez, Edgar (Martinez) and Griff (Ken Griffey Jr.), Randy Johnson and all those guys. This was a huge team for me growing up. To be here and to play for this team, it means more than I can ever say.”
Gonzales, 25, is a native of Fort Collins, Colo. He played college baseball at Gonzaga University, and was a first-round pick (19th overall) of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 MLB draft.
The tour through Eastern Washington was a treat of sorts for Gonzales.
“I have had the most fun this entire offseason this week,” said Gonzales, who was picked up in a trade with St. Louis in July. “Being able to come out and see some friendly faces, friends, family, coaches, teammates, professors. People in the crowd wearing GU gear. This has been special to me. I consider Washington my second home. It has been a lot of fun. said Gonzales, who was picked up in a trade with St. Louis in July.”
Gonzales joined a Seattle pitching staff that includes Felix Hernandez, Edwin Diaz, Ariel Miranda and James Paxton, just to name a few.
“I was very fortunate in St. Louis to work with guys like Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and (catcher) Yadier Molina,” Gonzales said. “Guys who helped me develop into a better pitcher. I plan on using every resource I can, talking to these guys and hopefully bettering myself as a pitcher. They have a lot of knowledge. That’s how you get better as a player, you surround yourself with better pitchers and pick their brains.”
Gonzales also has learned a few things from the Moose this week. Not sure they will translate to the mound, but life lessons nonetheless.
“I have learned that dancing can spread a lot of cheer,” Gonzales said. “I learned how to not hurt myself during a back handspring. (The Moose) is a lot of fun. He is the biggest character on the tour. It’s kind of nice to sit back and let him do his thing and rile up the crowd. We were at Emerson Elementary this morning. When he came in, the place just erupted. It makes us feel like kids again, I found myself clapping.”
While the Moose is a big draw, he’s a Moose of few words.
In a brief encounter with the media, he was asked if he got a Hall of Fame ballot to cast a vote for Martinez. The Moose sadly dropped his head and shook it no. Then he clasped his hands together in prayer and looked to the heavens.
If that prayer works for Martinez, maybe he can send one up for the Mariners to make the playoffs.