It’s never fun to be traded. Well, unless you’re Taylor Motter. The Mariners’ utility player described the offseason trade from the Tampa Bay Rays to Seattle as the “happiest day” of his life.
“I was ready for something new,” Motter told “Danny, Dave and Moore” on Friday. “I was absolutely ready to get out of Tampa; I was ready and looking forward to my new teammates here, getting to know new people, getting to know a new coaching staff. It was the absolutely best thing that happened in my career, and in my life so far.”
To say the feeling is mutual might be overstating it slightly, but the Mariners front office and fans have been no less than thrilled with the 27-year-old’s play so far this season.
The jack-of-all-trades made the team out of spring training after crushing the ball to the tune of a .295/.389/.492 slash-line, including three homers, and hasn’t slowed nine games into the regular season. Last week, he slugged three doubles in one game and followed it up with two hits, including a home run, the next. Despite going hitless in Sunday’s dramatic come-from-behind win, Motter has slugged two home runs, five RBIs and a .292/.370/.708 slash-line.
Motter’s play has been huge for Seattle, especially after shortstop Jean Segura, the Mariners’ biggest offseason acquisition, went down with a hamstring injury on April 10.
“It’s just been a blast to get on the field again,” he said. “I accepted my role as being a utility guy here, and I knew that’s what I was gonna be. And Jean goes down, which isn’t a good thing for us, but I’m happy to fill in and do what I can until he gets healthy again.”
Motter said he feels most natural at shortstop but has played most every position on the field – including pitching one-third of an inning last season for the Rays. He said the life of a utility player isn’t always easy.
“It’s a tough thing to accept,” he said. “It’s easier out here, seeing all the guys we got like Segura, (Robinson) Cano, (Kyle) Seager, (Jarrod) Dyson, (Leonys) Martin. Like all these guys are stars, so I accept my role and I know what it’s gonna be. Granted, do I want to play every day? Yeah, but I want to help this team win a championship more than anything.”
It’s also not just Motter’s play on the diamond that’s caught people’s attention – his long flowing hair has also done the trick. Motter said he started growing out his shoulder-length locks following the 2012 season, which he described as the worst of his career. The long blond hair even caught the eye of Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve.
“Funny thing was I saw the video and I didn’t even know he was touching or feeling my hair,” Motter said. “So I looked at the video and was like, ‘Oh, he was actually grabbing it.’ But he had asked me to teach him how to grow it. I said, ‘You know what, just give me a call, I’ll send over a bunch of instructions for you; you can go from there.’”
And what is the secret to the flowing mane?
“It’s just shampoo and conditioner. That’s it,” Motter said. “And a hundred brushes a day…. 1, 2, 3. Just count it out. Go ask (Bench coach Tim) Bogar. Every day before the game, it’s a hundred strokes. Gotta be a hundred. It’s gotta be the perfect smoothness.”