SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Observations: Jake Fraley breaks out, M’s have strong showings vs Dodgers’ stars

Mar 11, 2021, 8:50 PM | Updated: 9:01 pm
Mariners Jake Fraley...
Jake Fraley homered and hit a ground-rule double in the Mariners' tie with the Dodgers. (Getty)
(Getty)

If spring training games are about the work, the Mariners had the opportunity to get some good work in Thursday night.

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The World Series-champion Dodgers rolled out their A-squad, giving Mariners starter Chris Flexen the opportunity to face a number of the bigger names in the game. For the Mariners’ hitters, it meant facing 2020 National League Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer and Tony Gonsolin on the other side.

For Flexen, who went three innings and gave up two runs on a towering Corey Seager home run to left, it was about getting the work in, not worrying about the names on the jerseys in the 4-4 tie (box score here).

Heading into the game, manager Scott Servais said that he wanted to see Flexen utilize his secondary stuff, and that he was able to do, mixing in all of his pitches with a fastball that sat around 92 mph and topped out at 95. The results?

“He’s getting more comfortable,” Servais said after the game. “I thought his stuff was really good tonight. I thought his fastball ticked up, he got the curveball going in the second inning. A positive outing, something to build on. That’s a pretty good team they’ve got over there. He went right after them. That’s a good sign. Good signs all around for him tonight.”

Flexen did have to work out of trouble from the get-go, hitting leadoff man Mookie Betts and giving up the Seager homer in the next at-bat. In the third, Flexen had to work around back-to-back walks of the pair, but he escaped without damage being done.

“My cutter was really good tonight, I thought my curveball was sharp tonight. I think the biggest one for me that was not good was the changeup, it was real pushy tonight,” Flexen said. “I threw a bad one to Seager, he did what he was supposed to do on that pitch, but other than that I thought my curveball and cutter were good.”

Offensively, the Mariners got off to an encouraging start, forcing the Dodgers to roll the inning over in the first after Bauer walked in a run and threw 26 pitches. It was the kind of inning against a premier starter you would hope to see in the regular season. They got the pitch count up and got to him early.

“I thought our bats tonight were awesome,” said Servais. “We were very patient. Bauer’s got really good stuff, you are going to get a lot of breaking balls from him. Our guys laid off some close pitches there, it was great. It was really nice to see against a quality arm.”

One bat that was particularly good to see was Jake Fraley, who recorded his first and second hits of the spring. He broke an 0-for-15 start with a ground-rule double that was crushed off the wall in left-center in the second inning off Bauer, then hit a 446-foot home run to right off reliever Nick Robertson in the fourth.

“It was nice to see Jake Fraley going,” said Servais. “It’s been a struggle for him early in spring training but he certainly swung the bat very well tonight.”

Related: Dipoto talks Taylor Trammell challenging Fraley for M’s LF job

There were two items of concern for the Mariners in the game, however, and they both came from the bullpen.

The first was another shaky outing from Rafael Montero, who most likely is penciled into the closer role for the Mariners. Montero, whose spring training got off to a late start due to visa issues, allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk in his one inning of work.

Of perhaps greater concern, Roenis Elías called for the trainer after retiring the first batter he faced. Elías, who so far has been one of the few standout relievers early in camp, reported arm discomfort and will be checked out further Friday, according to Servais.

Follow Mariners insider Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

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