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New Mariners RHP Hunter Strickland has learned from breaking his hand

New Mariners RHP Hunter Strickland served as Giants closer last season until a June injury. (AP)

Mariners manager Scott Servais encourages his players to play with some emotion. One of his newest players, hard-throwing reliever Hunter Strickland, is known for doing just that – to the point that he’s actually working on dialing it down in 2019.

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“What I’m learning, to be honest with you, is trying to take out the emotions outside of my game,” Strickland said in an interview Monday with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore. “We saw it firsthand last year with my situation – if you let the emotions get the best of you, then you lose a lot. So I think to take a step back and just be consistent, and if there is a bad game, then you realize that you gotta dial it back in and be ready to go the next day.”

Strickland was the closer for the San Francisco Giants for the first half of last season, but after blowing a save on June 18 against the Marlins, he wasn’t ready to go the next day. That’s because he hit a window – not a door, as has been previously reported – with his pitching hand, breaking it and keeping him out of action for two months.

The 30-year-old right-hander was candid about the incident with Danny, Dave and Moore.

“It was just a split-second stupid decision, and it was definitely learning the hard way. But to be honest with you, I wouldn’t trade it because I feel I’ve grown as a person and a player from that,” Strickland said. “Everybody said it was a door. It wasn’t a door, it was actually a window. … Saw my reflection in the window and just split-second stupid decision, reacted just because of frustration with myself, and that was kinda history for that season, to be honest with you.”

Strickland can laugh at the situation now that it’s in the past.

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“I was so surprised (the window didn’t break),” he said. “When I got back after surgery a couple weeks (later), I went back down there, sure enough where I hit the window was right where the shelf behind it butted up to it. So I basically hit the corner of a shelf.

“It was kind of a slap in the face – 1, because I’m on the DL because I just made a stupid decision, but 2, I didn’t even break the window and it broke my hand.”

While Strickland was an All-Star candidate last season – he had a 2.01 ERA and 13 saves before his injury – he’s perhaps best known for an on-field scuffle with Bryce Harper that turned into a bench-clearing brawl between the Giants and Nationals in 2017. It’s been a long time since the Mariners have had a fight like that, but don’t count on Strickland instigating one any time soon.

“I definitely have the competitive spirit; I haven’t lost that. I think that being able to harness that a little bit better is something that I’ve gotten a handle on,” he said. “If my teammates get in a situation I definitely always have their back, but as far as me personally, I’m just looking to get the outs that I need to get.”

You can hear the full conversation with Strickland embedded in this post or download a podcast of it at this link.

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