In 2016, southpaw pitcher Marc Rzepczynski allowed just one home run to a left-handed batter. In 2017, he’s glad to call that batter his teammate and not his foe.
“The one home run I actually gave up was to Kyle (Seager),” Rzepczynski told “Danny, Dave and Moore” on Monday while recalling the numerous times he had to face Seager, Robinson Cano and the Mariners’ other lefties as a member of the AL West rival Athletics last season. “Now I don’t have to face them anymore. … Playing against them last year was a pain in the butt.”
Rzepczynski (pronounced zep-CHIN-ski) has more reasons to be happy that the Mariners signed him to a two-year deal. For one, he enjoyed his time as an 18-year-old playing for the Bellingham Bells in a collegiate summer league, and through that he developed an appreciation for Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. But beyond liking the area, he’s pleased to be on a team with a good shot at the postseason.
“One of the things that intrigued me to come over here and sign was because we were so close (to making the playoffs last season),” Rzepczysnki said.
The 31-year-old reliever is so far enjoying the light-hearted atmosphere that manager Scott Servais has created in spring training, which reminds him of his three seasons playing in Cleveland for Terry Francona, a two-time World Series winner.
“I definitely feel like, one, (Servais) loves being open and having fun in the clubhouse,” Rzepczynski said. “I played for a manager like that in Francona. … He likes to have fun outside of baseball, but once the games start it’s time to let go and focus on what we gotta do.”
And when it comes to what he’ll be tasked to do on the field, Rzepczynski is excited to be setting up for young fireballer Edwin Diaz, who will continue to be Seattle’s closer after an electric two-month run in the role last year.
“Just seeing what he did last year, it’s gonna be fun getting the ball to him in the ninth,” Rzepczynski said. “We’re gonna feel secure down there. We get a lead, more times than not we’re gonna walk away a win.”
So, about the name (part II)
Catcher Tuffy Gosewich may have the most unique name of players on the Mariners roster, but Rzepczynski gives him a run thanks to his 11-letter surname that has earned him the nickname “Scrabble.” In the classic word game, Rzepczynski’s name would garner 40 points without the help of any letter or word bonuses.
There’s another nickname he said he’d rather be called by his teammates, though: “Zep.” No word on if he prefers that based on an appreciation for legendary rock band Led Zeppelin.