Sexson homered in his first two at-bats Monday in the Mariners’ 5-1 win. Sexson, who signed a $50 million, four-year contract with Seattle in the offseason, hit a three-run homer in the first and added a two-run blast in the third.
“I never was a free agent, a big free agent especially,” said manager Mike Hargrove, who got the win in his Seattle debut. “I’d have to believe it’s tough if you care at all. You don’t want to let down the people that signed you, or the people who came to see you play.”
Jason Bartlett drove in Minnesota’s only run in the fifth inning.
Sexson hit just two homers in spring training, but was showing signs of improvement by the time camp ended. He became the ninth Seattle player to homer in his first at-bat with the team, and the first to do so in his first two at-bats.
“Not exactly the way you envision it,” Sexson said. “To do something like that is a little farfetched.”
In his second game with his new team, Sexson will square off against Santana, who last season became the first Venezuelan to win the Cy Young Award.
Santana, who received a four-year, $40 million contract in February, had a season for the ages last year as he led the league with 265 strikeouts, a 2.61 ERA and a .192 batting average against. The 26-year-old left-hander went 20-6 and became the first unanimous AL Cy Young winner in four seasons.
“He has developed right in front of our eyes,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “He was the 11th or 12th guy on the staff a few years ago, and now all of a sudden he’s a unanimous Cy Young winner. That’s a phenomenal jump in status on a pitching staff.”
Santana started out slow last season, falling to 2-4 with a 5.51 ERA following a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on June 3. However, he later won 13 straight decisions. Overall, he didn’t lose in 15 starts after the All-Star break as Minnesota rolled to its third straight AL Central title.
Even though he’s suddenly one of the top pitchers in baseball, Santana insists he’ll keep a level head.
“For me it’s just going to be like another year,” Santana said. “I’m not going to bring that up in my head. For me, I’ve just got to do my job and as long as you stay healthy it’s fine.
“If I’m healthy, then I can do a lot of things.”