$n$ Mariners spring training is right around the corner with Moose sightings in Walla Walla, caravans, questions and answers and autographs . . . The signs of spring

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The Seattle Mariners Caravan made a stop on the Whitman College campus Jan. 13, with veteran announcer Rick Rizzs, pitchers Shawn Kelley and Luke French, and the Mariners Moose making an appearance in front of hundreds of M's fans.

Mariner representatives answered questions, signed memorabilia and had their pictures taken with fans.

"A lot of teams don't get to really go out and meet the fans like this because they might not reach as wide of a market, because there are other teams around their areas," French said during the Caravan stop at Whitman. "The Q and A's are my favorite part."

The Walla Walla program was the sixth of eight scheduled before the Mariners headed south for Spring Training.

"I liked listening to the pitchers talk the most," said 10-year old Brayden Leavitt. "I'm excited for a new season."

After a disappointing season in which Seattle finished 61-101, the Mariners welcome new manager Eric Wedge to the helm for the 2011 campaign.

Seattle opens the regular season April 1 at Oakland.

That's not soon enough for some fans, like Helen Callaway of Athena, who was at the Walla Walla Caravan stop and has been a Mariners fan since the team's debut in 1977.

"I still go to spring training every year," Callaway said, holding a picture she had taken with Rizzs in Arizona. "Last year, I got this (the picture with Rizzs) taken with him in Arizona, so it is so nice to see him again. I can't wait for a new season to start. I love the pitching duels. Watching Felix (Hernandez, a Cy Young winner last season) pitch is the best."

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