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Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger were good in the first half; Mariners looking for better in the second

Mitch Haniger stole only three bases in the first half of the season. (AP)

CHICAGO – One of the keys to second-half success for the Mariners that I laid out in my previous post is improvement from the younger players. In the first half, Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger spent little time getting their big-league legs under them. Manager Scott Servais and the coaches learned a lot about both players, and in meetings over the last two days, both have been asked for more.

In the case of Gamel, while his .322 average is good, what happens when he doesn’t get a hit is an area where he can improve. Servais pointed to an opportunity for add-on in the Mariners’ 4-2 win over the White Sox Friday as an example of how Gamel can grow as a hitter. With the Mariners up 3-2, Jean Segura led off the fifth inning with a double. It was Gamel’s job to get him to third but he failed to do so, grounding out to third.

“Those are things you have got to improve upon ,especially if you are going to hit in the two hole because there is a pretty good chance Jean Segura is going to hit quite a few more doubles this year,” Servais said, pointing out this was something Gamel was good at earlier in the year. “You have got to be about (getting) guys moved along in that situation.”

As for Haniger, while he has never put up more than 12 stolen bases in a season, the Mariners believe he can run and would like to see him do so more often.

“I think he can steal bases,” Servais said. “We really liked what we saw in spring training, his aggressiveness, getting leads, getting jumps. I would like to see more of that going forward in the second half.”

As much as Gamel and Haniger have contributed to the team so far, they are young players with room to grow. Servais and his staff will work to help them continue to develop and improve on specifics at the big-league level.

“They have got things to work on,” Servais said. “Young players who have the ability to do a lot of different things, we just have got to get that ability to come out more consistently. And trying to push the envelope on those things.”

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