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For McClendon and Seager, good is not good enough

By Shannon Drayer

It was another huge night for Kyle Seager as the Mariners beat the Red Sox 8-2 Tuesday. Seager went 2 for 4 with a monster home run off the Hit It Here Cafe and drove in four runs, extending his streak of home games with two or more RBIs to a club-record five. He now has a team-leading 51 RBIs on the year, just 18 shy of his total for 2013.

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“I think there’s a big room for improvement,” manager Lloyd McClendon said about Kyle Seager after he homered and doubled in Seattle’s win over Boston Tuesday night. (AP)

After the game, manager Lloyd McClendon had praise for Seager, but he also had a challenge.

“Kyle is an accomplished hitter. He knows what he is doing at the plate, but I probably expect a little bit more than you guys,” McClendon answered when asked about what he has seen from Seager. “I think there’s a big room for improvement. He’s doing a nice job, he’s swinging the bat, he’s hitting some home runs, he’s driving in some runs, but I have been around the game for a long time and Kyle Seager is not a .260 hitter and there has to be some more progress, some more steps to take and that’s my responsibility to get it out of him. He’s doing great, but we have got to take that next step.”

How many times have you heard, “Kyle Seager, I don’t worry about him,” or “Kyle Seager is going to hit”? Seager has been one of the Mariners’ few bright spots with the bat the last two years and while some may consider it enough to be one of the team’s top hitters, McClendon does not. He wants to see more consistency from Seager. He wants to see Seager use the whole field more. He believes Seager can be a more complete hitter. It’s not a criticism of any sort, rather a compliment and Seager realizes this and embraces the challenge.

“That’s something I really appreciate and I enjoy it,” he said at his locker after Tuesday’s game. “I enjoy the fact that he’s going to challenge you with stuff and it’s not just a generic thing, it’s been specific. We’ve had detailed conversations about stuff. It’s been a really good thing.”

Seager is a student of hitting and considers it an invaluable experience to work with McClendon, a former hitting coach who has remained very active and hands-on in coaching the hitters along with Mariners hitting coach Howard Johnson.

“You look at his background, obviously coming from being a hitting coach, you look at where he was, he had some good hitters, and obviously there is a lot to learn between him and HoJo,” Seager said.

I love this move. McClendon is looking at one of his best players and looking for ways to make him better. He has a vision of what Seager can possibly be and there is no question Seager can handle a challenge. Seager is constantly striving to be better and now he has help from his manager, help from a guy who helped some of the best hitters in the league during his time in Detroit.

And it’s not just for Seager’s good, but the good of the team. McClendon has always focused on what is in front of him, not what he doesn’t have. Sure, it would be nice to have that big bat behind Robinson Cano, but if it isn’t being given to him perhaps McClendon and Johnson can help develop it.

It was an eye-opening comment in the postgame press conference that gives us a little glimpse at what is going on behind the scenes.

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