Ken Griffey Jr. shares his advice for Mariners rookie Jarred Kelenic
Jarred Kelenic has been in the major leagues for a little over two weeks, and the highly-touted Mariners rookie is searching for results that look more like what he was used to in the minors.
After going 0 for 3 with a walk in Sunday’s 4-2 Mariners win over the Rangers, Kelenic’s slash line sits at .123/.197/.246, leaving him with a rough .443 OPS. He also has gone without a hit in five straight games.
It’s certainly not what anybody had hoped for out of the 21-year-old outfielder’s first 17 games in “the show,” and it’s easy to understand the frustration he’s likely dealing with at this point, especially since he has relatively kept his strikeouts down, has made a lot of hard contact, and his batting average on balls in play is a very low .122. The league average for BABIP, as the stat is commonly referred to, is usually around .300, and it’s one number that tends to find its way back to the mean – which is to say Kelenic’s BABIP suggests he’s been especially unlucky when making contact this season.
If there’s anybody who understands the position Kelenic is in as the team’s top prospect arriving in Seattle with high expectations and at a time when the time is trying to snap a long playoff drought, it’s Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who happened to be at T-Mobile Park for Sunday’s game. The Mariners legend jumped on the 710 ESPN Seattle broadcast during the top of the fourth inning with Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith, and the topic of Kelenic came up during the conversation.
Rizzs asked Griffey if he a “bit of advice” for Kelenic, and Junior didn’t hesitate to share it.
“Relax,” Griffey responded. “The one thing is, when you’re young – and we’ve all been there – you’re trying to hit the three-run home run with nobody on instead of just taking what they give you. I was no different. It’s just one of those things (where) when you get called up, you don’t want to go back down, and so you’re trying everything and sometimes you get out of your comfort zone. You start doing things you don’t normally do. Just relax and enjoy the moment.”
By the way, Griffey had his own struggles at the plate early on. After his famous double off the wall in Oakland to open his MLB career in 1989, he had just one more hit on Seattle’s season-opening road trip, going 2 for 19 (.105 batting average) over his first five games. And though he picked things up when the Mariners got home to the Kingdome, he had another slump before the end of his first month, with his average dipping back down to .189 after his 14th game.
Kelenic gets a chance to snap his hitless streak Monday as the Mariners, who are winners of four straight and back at an even .500, open a new series at home against the Oakland Athletics. Coverage begins on 710 ESPN Seattle with the pregame show at noon, while first pitch is set for 1:10 p.m.