Drayer: Day 2 of Mariners Summer Camp sees a few start to stand out
Until recently, a Fourth of July without baseball games would seem almost unfathomable. But here we are, and while there was no bunting hanging from the deck facings, no military bands on the field or fireworks after, the crack of the bat could be heard as the Mariners were able to run through Summer Camp drills on a chilly but sun-drenched field Saturday at T-Mobile Park.
One day in, it looked like the pace had been turned up from getting going again, though cautious to what we are accustomed to seeing in Spring Training. Having been able to get his eyes on the majority of his players Friday, Mariners manager Scott Servais was encouraged by what he saw.
“Everyone has looked good physically,” he said, pointing out that Kyle Lewis in particular stood out. “Guys are much further along than I anticipated they might be.”
A concern early on in the shutdown was what players would have available to them in terms of training. Depending on where they were, some had more available to them than others. In the case of Lewis, who spent the majority of the shutdown in Atlanta, he was able to keep up a full routine until baseball returned.
“I was able to work with my speed coach and my weight coach in private sessions,” Lewis said. “Then my hitting coach from my high school days, who has been my hitting coach throughout, I was able to go to the high school and do private sessions too and be able to keep good distance with all that and still get all my work in.”
On the pitching side, Justin Dunn, who lives in New York but spent the shutdown sharing a house with Jake Fraley and his family near the Mariners’ spring training facility in Arizona, saw his workout options expand as the shutdown progressed. Early on the work was limited to the backyard but before long he and others in the area were able to use an indoor baseball facility before it opened each day.
Dunn was among the first to show up at the Mariners’ facility when it opened last month and was able to continue his work, which included live batting practices against Fraley and Evan White.
“I’m definitely ready to go,” Dunn said. “I understand there is still some room to go with building up and really locking in the pitches and fine tuning and getting it into game shape, but I definitely feel strong. I feel I haven’t really regressed since spring training which I am really happy about.”
Now that the majority of the Mariners are in camp, it is a matter of getting everyone game-ready in just 21 short days. The morning session saw the arrival of two players who where not in camp Friday with Dee Gordon and Daniel Vogelbach cleared to join the workouts. Gordon jumped right into the fire, stepping in for a live batting practice against Dunn, whose breaking ball looked particularly sharp during his 20-pitch session.
“It’s a big year for Justin,” said Servais. “I like where he is at, he knows what is ahead of him. I think the fact that we are going to go with a six-man rotation gives him an opportunity to make 10 starts, stay healthy and we find out more about him and he finds out more about himself and the adjustments he has to make to get through a big league season.”
Gordon, face covering on, tracked a few pitches before taking swings. By procuring an inflatable batting cage, he has been able to hit throughout the shutdown and looked comfortable facing the live pitching.
The morning session included the live BP, regular BP, infield and position drills and base running drills. In addition to Gordon, Lewis and Vogelbach, the position group was made up of Kyle Seager, Evan White, Tom Murphy, Brian O’Keefe, Tim Lopes, Sam Haggerty, Braden Bishop and Fraley.
The afternoon session, which includes the Mariners’ 2020 MLB Draft picks, was closed to the media. An interesting situation to have players who were drafted just weeks ago on the field with big leaguers.
“I saw some very rapid heartbeats,” Servais said with a smile when asked about the newest Mariners. “I saw a lot of big eyes and how fast things are happening. It’s good for them. I can’t imagine the first day you put on a uni and you are in with a big league stadium with the rest of the team. Things will slow down the more they go through the workouts and we start getting in some intrasquad games and things like that. It’s great experience.”
Drills will continue this week with the first intrasquad game scheduled on Friday, July 10. Most of those contests will be less than nine innings with the goal to get the starters two to three outings and the regular position players around 30 at-bats.