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Playing Robinson Canó at 3 spots on defense may not be doing Mariners’ offense any favors

Robinson Canó has played 1B, 2B and 3B since his return to the Mariners. (AP)

It’s been a rough past month for the Mariners, who had found themselves 5 ½ games back of Oakland in the American League Wild Card race entering Thursday, a result of going 11-16 since July 31. The biggest problem over that stretch has been the offense, and 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer has an idea of what could help:

Put Robinson Canó in one spot and don’t move him.

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“I can’t help but wonder, are there too many moving parts right now?” Drayer said Thursday during her daily segment with John Clayton. “Is it too much for too many players to come in every day and look at the lineup and see, ‘Am I playing? Where am I playing?’ … Where (Canó) plays in the field and who he’s replacing and who doesn’t play for a day, I think that (makes an impact).”

Since Canó returned earlier this month from an 80-game suspension, the Mariners have put him to use all over the infield. One day he might be at second base, where he used to play exclusively, but the next he could be at first. There’s also been the odd game here or there where Canó has taken over at third base, as well. But while Seattle has enjoyed the extra flexibility in the field, the offensive production hasn’t been there.

“I know (general manager) Jerry Dipoto very much values versatility, but I think at some point maybe there’s too much versatility,” Drayer said.

Drayer pointed out an interesting fact as it pertains to the three positions Canó has been playing. The three Mariners who regularly play at those spots – first baseman Ryon Healy, second baseman Dee Gordon and third baseman Kyle Seager – all rank near the bottom offensively in the American League for the second half of the season. And it might be more than just a coincidence.

“If you look at the second half numbers, it’s glaring,” Drayer said. “Rather than try and get the best matchups, would it be of value right now just to take Robinson and put him in one of those spots? Maybe not for the rest of the season, but let’s see what happens for a week. You know, the last time they shook up things majorly and moved Mitch Haniger to the leadoff spot, they won four straight in Houston. Might this be a good time to try and do something dramatic? I think so.”

One option is to put Canó at second and move Gordon back to center field, which was how the Mariners started the year. They could also use Canó at third and give the struggling Seager some time to collect himself, as Drayer suggested in the segment with Clayton. You can hear more on that in this podcast from Thursday’s show. Drayer’s segment starts around the 20:30 mark.

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