TOKYO -- One of the oddities of playing baseball in the Tokyo Dome is that the bullpens are located underneath the stands, back with the batting cages, so that relievers can't see the game except on a small television in the closed room.
"There's a TV up top that shows a scoreboard and kilometers per hour and balls and strikes and all that stuff," Mariners reliever Steve Delabar said. "Below that there's a view from behind the pitcher, straight on, like a TV view. They have the intro music and all that stuff, but they never go to commercial, so we just sit back there watching that live feed from the center-field camera."
Delabar said the TV image is on a delay of several seconds, so players sometimes hear loud cheers and then wait to see what happens. But mostly, they just sit in their room, which the Mariners tabbed "The Dungeon" and wait to get called.
"You get loose, then you walk through underneath and come out on the field," Delabar said. "It's a strange setup, but it's the way they do it."
Not all Japanese stadiums are arranged that way, but the Tokyo Dome is among numerous parks that use a similar configuration.
"It's quite a bit different," said Tom Wilhelmsen, who picked up the win in relief in Wednesday's 3-1 victory. "You're kind of stuck back in the corner and just waiting for it, watching on a very small TV. There's about a 5-10 second delay, but they were good with communication letting us know what's going on and when you're coming in. So I was ready for it."
The hardest part, say the Mariners, is feeling so far apart from the action.
"You do feel a little removed from all the atmosphere they have on the field," said Delabar. "There's a lot going on, especially in the exhibition games [against Japanese teams] with all the chatter going on and the bands going on and banging their sticks and stuff.
"Being in there, all you can hear is the really loud cheers. You don't hear that atmosphere that they have and it feels kind of like we're missing out on that. But that's the way they do things here and you've got to respect that."
Ryan pops question to girlfriend in Tokyo
TOKYO -- Brendan Ryan has been known as an engaging sort since joining the Mariners a year ago in a trade from the Cardinals, but the fun-loving shortstop took that to a new level this week.
Ryan, 30, proposed to his long-time girlfriend on Tuesday on the Sky Deck on the 54th floor of Mori Tower, one of Tokyo's tallest buildings, surprising her with a ring he'd brought from the United States as part of a master plan he managed to keep secret for months.
"I had this planned for quite a while," said Ryan. "Once I heard we were going to Japan, I figured it was a pretty cool opportunity. Then MLB heard about it and stepped in and rolled out the red carpet for us and it was just awesome."
Ryan told his girlfriend, Sharyn, that they were going on a tour and needed to get dressed up. MLB provided a fake "tour guide" who took the couple to the tower, where Ryan waited for the perfect moment.
"We got up there at sunset so it was starting to get dark and you could see the lights of the city and the Tokyo Tower was lit up," he said. "It was perfect."
Ryan had asked Ichiro's interpreter, Antony Suzuki, how to say "Will you marry me?" in Japanese.
"So I dropped that on her," Ryan said. "When she asked me what that meant I got down on a knee. It was kind of cool."
Even better was when the shocked Sharyn said yes.
"She didn't answer at first," he said. "I'd instilled in her that we'd be close to 40 when that would happen, so she was pretty shocked. But after 5-10 seconds, she finally gave me an answer, which of course was yes.
"I said, 'Are you going to put this thing on or what?' She took the box and just held on to it and grabbed me. I said, 'I think you're supposed to put this thing on.' I was afraid it wouldn't fit, but it did."
The hyperactive Ryan thought of everything on this one, even realizing he shouldn't trust himself to bring the engagement ring with him to Japan.
"One of the smartest things I ever did was give that thing to Felix [Hernandez]," Ryan said, "because I figured if anybody was going to lose it, he could afford it."
Sprained shoulder lands Carp on disabled list
TOKYO -- Mariners left fielder Mike Carp was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, and the club recalled Carlos Peguero from Triple-A Tacoma to take his place.
Carp, 25, suffered a sprained right shoulder diving for a double hit by Oakland's Kurt Suzuki in the fourth inning of Wednesday's Opening Day victory in the Tokyo Dome. Carp stayed in through the entire 11-inning game, going 0-for-4 but making several running catches later in the game.
Chone Figgins replaced Carp in left field for Thursday's second game against the A's at the Tokyo Dome, with Kyle Seager starting at third base.
Peguero, 25, was already with the team in Japan as part of the 30-man travel roster, but was optioned to Triple-A on Tuesday to get the Mariners to the 28-man limit for the two games in Japan.
Carp will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Peoria, Ariz., on Friday. He was one of the Mariners' breakthrough stories last year when he hit .276 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs after being called up in midseason. If Carp recovers quickly enough, he would be eligible to return in time for the Mariners' home opener on April 13 against the A's.
Peguero hit .196 in 46 games last year with six home runs and 19 RBIs. The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder has a team-leading four home runs in Cactus League play this spring and has hit .256 in 43 at-bats.
• Since the Mariners and A's now have a week of Spring Training again before resuming regular-season play on April 6 in Oakland, they should be able to come back with the same starting pitchers again for that series. That means Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas facing the A's on April 6-7, with Seattle's other three starters -- Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Kevin Millwood -- not needed until the Rangers series in Arlington, Texas, starting April 9.
• Amy Franz, otherwise note as the "Ichi-meter lady" at Safeco Field, found a way to land her familiar front-row seat in right field at the Tokyo Dome for both games with the A's. Franz was even introduced to the crowd prior to Opening Night with a quick appearance on the big screen, the start of an evening that turned glorious with four hits by Ichiro.
"It was awesome," Franz said. "Ichiro is on track for a good season with a start like that."
Because of the way the stands are configured at the Tokyo Dome, Franz was only allowed to hoist her "Ichi-meter" and "Area 51" signs when Ichiro was at bat. But she did so with gusto, with "Area 51" written in both English and Japanese.
• The Mariners missed a chance to open the season with a 2-0 record for just the eighth time in club history.
• Ichiro could have tied the Major League record for hits in March with one hit Thursday, but wound up 0-for-4 to finish the month with four. Since few Major League games are ever played before April, the record for hits in March is five set by Tampa Bay's Toby Hall (2004) and the Giants' Jeff Kent (1998).