Notebook: Mariners serving notice that they’ll run more in 2016
PEORIA, Ariz. – The Mariners had what manager Scott Servais called their “speed team” in Sunday’s Cactus League game and the result was six stolen bases. Plenty of teaching, learning and trying things out in their win over Texas.
“At this point of the spring I just want our guys to stay aggressive, show us what they can do,” Servais said.
Base-running and stealing were not strengths of the Mariners in 2015. That’s something that must change and it has been a focus in spring training as Servais believes this team will be in a lot of one-run games and will often need to come up with a late-inning run to win. Between the instruction and the new roster, the Mariners should be better equipped to do so.
“We have to create other opportunities to win ballgames,” he said. “We talked all offseason how the team was built. It’s a different team and certainly we want fans in Seattle to recognize that. Believe me, I love the three-run homer, but there are other ways to score runs and we have to do things a little differently to be consistent because you can’t rely on the home run.”
Stealing early and often in camp fills another purpose. It serves notice or plants the seed that the Mariners are going to run.
“Oh, it’s being planted,” Servais acknowledged. “It’s in the dirt, it’s being watered, putting a little sun on it. It will continue to grow.”
Servais has stressed to the players that he wants the other team uncomfortable when there are Mariners on the bases.
“That is the feeling that we want the team to know,” he said. “There is more than just make a good pitch, you get them out, the guys you are facing. When guys get on base, there is a focus on the guys on base and not just the hitter.”
Ketel Marte, SS
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Adam Lind, 1B
Stefen Romero, RF
Steve Clevenger, C
Efren Navarro, LF
Boog Powell, CF
James Paxton, SP
Marte is at or near the top of the order once again with Seager hitting second. Tough to get a read on whether or not that is something as the starting infield has not matched up with the starting outfield very much.
If Nori Aoki was in the lineup hitting leadoff, would everyone be bumped down a spot or would Marte be hitting eighth or ninth with Seager still second? Does this change with the handedness of the opponents’ starters? Will Marte open enough new eyes to become a permanent fixture at the top? We shall see.
Lee working on timing at the plate
Plan on seeing a good amount of Dae-Ho Lee in the upcoming games. Servais wants to get him regular at-bats so he can get his timing going. I asked today if there were specific adjustments he was making at the plate to face MLB pitching, wondering about the high leg kick, and Servais noted that he does seem to have a different two-strike approach.
“When he does get to two strikes, he does quiet things down,” Servais said. “He probably gets his foot down a little quicker so the leg kick is under control. He worked a walk yesterday. He’s aggressive early, which is great; he should let it fly. But with two strikes, he does shorten.”
Lee is scheduled to replace Lind at first base in today’s game at some point.
Relievers Scribner, Cook sidelined
We have our first significant injuries of the spring with two relievers down due to lat injuries of varying severity.
The Mariners’ hope is that a tear was avoided with Evan Scribner, who has had lat issues in the past. Ryan Cook does not appear to be as fortunate and is expected to miss more time. Servais would not put timetables on either reliever other than to say the two would be behind.
• Reliever Charlie Furbush, whom the Mariners are being very cautious with, threw his second live batting-practice session of the spring and all went well. He threw 25 pitches at 80-90 percent, mixed them all in and was generally happy with the results. The plan for him is to see how his shoulder responds and make a decision on whether or not to throw another live BP before getting an inning in a Cactus League game.
• “The Cactus League Report” will air from 7-9 PST tonight on 710 ESPN Seattle. Guests will include Servais, relievers Tony Zych and Joaquin Benoit and Larry Stone from The Seattle Times. Join us at the Salty Senorita from 6-8 if you are in the area.