CLEVELAND – The Mariners may not have made one of the bigger splashes at the trade deadline, but general manager Jack Zduriencik did address a number of needs as the clock ticked down.
For an offense that has been struggling to score more than two runs per game for the better part of a month, any help would be regarded as good help. With the additions of Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia, Zduriencik gives manager Lloyd McClendon stability in center field, flexibility in right and balance in the lineup.
While the lefty-heavy offense has managed to put up a good record against left-handed starters this year, McClendon believes the balance added by the two right-handed outfielders will help them in the long run.
“Absolutely, no question about it,” he said. “It’s interesting. We certainly have held our own against left-handed starters. I think we have struggled somewhat against left-handed relievers. When you plug in another professional right-handed hitter, it makes the other manager think a little bit before he makes that move that he will just bring in the lefty. Your lineup has more balance and it is harder to just bring a lefty when you face a left-right-left-right.”
McClendon, who worked with Jackson for years as Detroit’s hitting coach, said he would most likely put Jackson at the top of the order and believes he can make an immediate impact.
“He’s probably one of the top center fielders in baseball,” McClendon said. “He gets those kinds of jumps and he plays in the biggest center field in all of baseball in Detroit. Offensively, you look at his numbers and this guy is pretty accomplished. He’s good at the top of the order, he can steal bases, he knows what he is doing, he’s a veteran hitter. There were some growing pains along the way but this kid is pretty good.”
Denorfia and Jackson will most likely replace others who are going through growing pains, which should help the team score more runs. They don’t need much, and McClendon believes this is a step in the right direction.
“Your lineup becomes more professional with guys in it that are capable of driving in a big run, and down the stretch that is what we are going to need because we are going to face good pitching,” he said. “Everyone is going to have good pitching and you need right-handed professional hitters. And they are two-way players. They know how to move themselves around a baseball field and they know how to handle situations in the batters’ box. This is definitely an upgrade for us.”