So, I guess it’s more than just a cuppa joe for Mr. Zunino . . .

Seems he’s been given the keys to the coffee shop!

The tweets started coming through early afternoon (while I was enjoying late breakfast with my daughter ~in town from Tahoe~ and my in-laws) . . .

The M’s had signed Henry Blanco and DFA’d Kelly Shoppach . . . wha????

At first blush, it made no sense. Why dump a decent back-up, no bat catcher for an even older one?

But, as the day went on and more info was disseminated, it became clear that the move was centered around the fact that the M’s had essentially declared that Mike Zunino as their everyday catcher. Apparently, Blanco is known for his mentorship (and Kelly, I guess, not-so-much).

So, let the Zunino era begin!

Here’s a link that includes audio from the last, great Mariner catcher and some of his thoughts on the catcher of the future (prior to the somewhat surprising news today)

“He’s a guy that does need to play,” Wilson said. “Learning how to play every day, learning how to play through injuries, learning how to play through nicks and bruises, and learning the position and everything it encompasses just takes some time.”

One of the concerns reporters and scouts have with Zunino is his ability to hit the breaking ball. Yesterday, he drilled a line drive up the middle on a 0-2 slider. It’s only been one game and it is a diminutive sample size. But, if Zunino continues to adjust with the bat, and proves Wilson’s acclaim, there is no reason he should not be here to stay. Perhaps he will be the best catcher the Mariners have had since Wilson. Perhaps even better.

“He’s 22 years old, but he’s playing a lot older than that,” Wilson said. “I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop.”