Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto calls SS Ketel Marte the ‘most surprising’ player he inherited

May 5, 2016, 10:06 AM
Shortstop Ketel Marte is hitting eighth for the Mariners in his first game back from the disabled l...
Shortstop Ketel Marte is hitting eighth for the Mariners in his first game back from the disabled list. (AP)
LISTEN: Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto reacts after sweep of Athletics

In the Mariners’ sweep-clinching win over Oakland on Wednesday, switch-hitting shortstop Ketel Marte pulled off something usually seen on a softball field. Hitting from the left side, he got a running start in the batter’s box and slapped a double to left field, beating the shift in the process.

It wasn’t his only double of the day. Batting from the right side, he drove in the first of what turned out to be four runs in the fifth inning, ripping a pitch over the head of left fielder Khris Davis’ glove to score Norichika Aoki.

Those two hits are just a couple of examples of what Marte is capable of, and it’s that array of skills that has first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto ecstatic about the 22-year-old.

“I’ve said from the day I got here, maybe the most surprising player of those that I was fortunate enough to inherit is Ketel Marte,” Dipoto “Danny, Dave and Moore” Wednesday during his weekly visit on the show. “I think Marte can do a lot of different things. He’s not gonna sit back on his back leg and hit balls off the facade, but what he can do is spray it around, work his way on base. He has good pitch judgment, good zone judgment, and at his age, with the opportunity he could grow with the veteran group around him, I’m really excited what the future holds.”

Things are going alright for the moment, at least. After a slow start to the season, Marte has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games, raising his average to .289. He’s also been impressive defensively at a key position.

“Ketel’s a really good player. Defensively he’s got arm strength. I think his feet are improving every day. He works hard at it ,” Dipoto said.

As for that slap double?

“He practices it every day,” Dipoto said.

Bullpen injury updates

Though the Mariners’ bullpen has been a huge surprise and leads the majors with a .174 batting-average-against, it’s also the only position group dealing with injuries. Dipoto offered updates on four relievers on the disabled list, including Tony Zych and Joaquin Benoit, who both landed there in the past two weeks.

• Zych, who went down with shoulder tendinitis on Tuesday, is expected to be out for four to six weeks, which Dipoto said was “probably pretty good news” for the Mariners considering the injury had the possibility of being much worse. “We were a little nervous sending him back to Seattle for tests yesterday, but it came back and the news was a little better than expected,” Dipoto said. The 25-year-old Zych has a 3.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.

• Benoit, who has shoulder inflammation, is progressing well after hitting the DL on April 25. “Joaquin Benoit’s already into his throwing program. I can’t put a timeline on it, but he should progress to a mound by this weekend or Monday, and then we’ll have a pretty good idea when he’ll be back,” Dipoto said, later adding that the Mariners are hopeful to have the 38-year-old setup man back in the next 10 days. In five innings, Benoit has a 3.60 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and four strikeouts.

• Ryan Cook, who has been out since early in spring training with a lat strain, may join the team by the end of the month. A 2012 All-Star while with Oakland, the 28-year-old Cook is a reclamation project after posting an 18.69 ERA with the A’s and Red Sox over nine appearances last year.

• Lefty specialist Charlie Furbush, who also has a shoulder issue, “feels good every day” but Dipoto doesn’t have any current expectations for when he may return since he hasn’t thrown to live hitting since last season.

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Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto calls SS Ketel Marte the ‘most surprising’ player he inherited