Mariners notebook: Seth Smith has been the standard for quality at-bats
May 2, 2016, 8:22 PM | Updated: May 4, 2016, 6:50 am
OAKLAND, Calif. – Road, sweet road. The Mariners kick off a seven-game road trip tonight with three against the A’s, a team they failed to beat in their season-opening homestand.
While the Mariners’ personnel is mostly the same as it was the first time the two teams met, the play is not. The early homestand hiccup appears to be behind them, and while the pitching has led way, both manager Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto have been happy with what they have seen with the offense and the quality of at-bats they are seeing on most nights. The team drew 30 walks in the six-game homestand to push its season total to 87, which ranks third in the American League.
Seth Smith has set the example, according to Servais.
“He’s been awesome,” Servais said. “His approach since the first day of spring training has been fantastic. He hasn’t tried to do too much, he uses the whole field, he beats the shift because he can use the whole field. Just the quality of the at-bat and the consistency. It’s been contagious and I think it has been led by him how we are approaching our at-bats.”
Smith’s line of .317/.440/.550/.990 leads the team in all categories. His on-base percentage is second in the league behind Minnesota’s Joe Mauer. Tonight he’s in right field.
Norichika Aoki, LF
Seth Smith, RF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Adam Lind, 1B
Kyle Seager, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Ketel Marte, SS
Leonys Martin, CF
Nathan Karns, RHP
Martin’s offensive struggles
Leonys Martin has cooled off considerably since his hot start, hitting just .176/.262/.378/.640. While he has hit four home runs already – his career high is eight – Servais doesn’t believe becoming homer happy is the problem.
“When you look at Martin, it looks like he is swinging very hard at times and I think that is more of a function of him being late and not getting in hitting position on time,” Servais said. “So now he has got to hurry up to get the bat there and a lot of times you are underneath the ball. That’s where the foul balls come from and you get deep in counts, 1-2, 0-2.”
Martin has walked in each of his last five games, an encouraging sign.
“He certainly has got the ability to get out of it,” Servais said. “He’s seen more pitches and taken some walks. He’s gotten a lot of big hits for us. The few home runs he’s hit, when you get anything at all from the bottom side of your lineup, it really helps us.”
Injury updates on relievers
Joaquin Benoit played catch yesterday and Servais said everything appeared to be moving in the right direction. The hope is he should be ready for a bullpen session this weekend. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 6. Servais is not sure if he will need a rehab start before returning.
Charlie Furbush checked out of his first bullpen session OK, although Servais said he may have been a little over-aggressive for the first time on the mound since being shut down in spring training. While no timetable has been given for a return, as long as his shoulder continues to respond well, we should see him progress from bullpens to a simulated game and then be sent out on a rehab assignment.
Ryan Cook, on the 60-day disabled list with a lat strain, is playing catch but not throwing off the mound yet. He is eligible to come off the DL on June 2. Evan Scribner, who also suffered a lat strain in spring training, is not yet throwing.
• Plenty of fun numbers in the game notes today. The Mariners currently have the third-best run differential in the league at plus-21. Their 42 two-out RBIs are fourth-most in the league. Nathan Karns has the third-best run support in the league at 8.46. Seattle continues to lead baseball with the lowest bullpen batting-average-against at .178. The Mariners are one of four teams in baseball that have yet to allow a passed ball.