Jerry Dipoto liked what he saw in Mariners’ opening series
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto joined “Danny, Dave and Moore” Thursday for the first installment of what will be a weekly appearance. Here are three takeaways.
The first series went as planned. Dipoto said he “couldn’t have been happier” about the first three games of the season, crediting manager Scott Servais and his coaching staff for establishing a nice tone for the team as it won two of three from Texas. He particularly enjoyed the dramatics in the second game.
“I thought we got off to a really good start,” Dipoto said. “Got to be honest, it was really fun to watch, particularly Game 2 … It was nice to see a little bit of heat under the collar; (it) got everybody going. I don’t know if it did much for Chris Iannetta’s thigh, but I think it provided an edge for the team for the last couple of games.”
While obviously excited about the team slugging nine home runs in three games, Dipoto was also pleased with the patient at-bats, as Seattle drew 13 walks and didn’t strike out at a disproportionate rate. That was the goal when constructing the roster this offsason.
“When we were building this lineup, or when we were envisioning it to come together, this is what we thought,” he said. “If we could find athletic guys who could string together quality at-bats and run the bases effectively, then we have the opportunity to feed the middle of our lineup with the opportunity to score runs. The way you drew it up on paper is exactly how it played on the field. Now I guess we’ll find out if in the next 159 games whether we can remain consistent in doing that.”
Robinson Cano’s clubhouse presence is huge. As good as Cano has been through three games – four home runs, seven RBIs, .308 batting average – Dipoto said he has been even more impressive in the dugout. Dipoto said Cano has taken shortstop Ketel Marte under his wing and also stepped into a major leadership role.
“I think he is hyper-focused right now and as hot as player can be in the batter’s box and has been since really Day 1 of the spring,” he said. “But what’s impressed me more than anything else, and I think (manager Scott Servais) would echo this, is what Robbie’s done in the clubhouse for every one of his 24 teammates and even beyond.”
As for Cano’s renewed pop at the plate, Dipoto said he’s not surprised that it’s coming from a “hall-of-fame quality player” and that he expects similar production as the second baseman showed in 2014, his first season in Seattle.
“From a transition standpoint I don’t know that you could ask for a much better year than he delivered in (2014), and my guess is that this year we’ll see something much closer to that,” Dipoto said. “And if the early indications in spring and so far in the first three games of the season are correct, then obviously there is a power burst or upgrade that’s coming even over what he did then. Right now it’s phenomenal. If they throw a ball that’s even close to the middle of the plate, he’s just crushing it.”
Forget spring training: Expect big things from pitcher Taijuan Walker. Dipoto said that while Walker’s spring numbers weren’t spectacular in terms of runs and hits allowed, the 23-year-old did a great job of dominating the strike zone and with pitch development.
“The spin on his curveball has improved every week of the spring and sometimes it’s easy to forget with guys like Taijuan and Ketel Marte, and even Louis Sardinas, how young these guys are,” he said. “… Especially in Taijuan’s case, he’s been famous long enough that you forget that we’re going to line kids up to pitch in A-ball that are older than Taijuan Walker this year. And he’s already doing it in the big leagues, and he has the potential to bust out and be a star in this league. I’m excited to see if his time is now because it sure seems like it is.”