Mariners with a shakeup at the top of the order
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Norichika Aoki has hit eighth or ninth in the Mariners’ order three times this season, and it looks like we will see more of that going forward. Leonys Martin will lead off Tuesday against the Rays, and although he is just 1 for 12 in his first three outings off the DL, manager Scott Servais likes what he has seen in his most recent at-bats and feels it ultimately could be a good fit at the top of the order.
“He was certainly kind of heading that way before the injury,” Servais said. “We will see if we can get him going and (if) he can spark our offense a little bit.”
If Servais sticks with the move, this would represent the first major lineup change he has made. Aoki is hitting . 239 with an on-base percentage of .323 while Martin has raised his numbers to .248/.322. It’s not just about these numbers, however.
“It’s a different type of offensive player,”said Servais. “Obviously Leonys has a little more power – not that we are looking for home runs from that spot – the speed game, the bunt game, there’s a lot that goes in there. I like what Aoki brings, his on-base skills are very good, but against right-handed pitching, Leonys’ aren’t that far behind right now.”
Up until this year, Aoki has been remarkably consistent at the plate with his batting average between .285 and .288 and his OBP .349 to .355. Two months into the season, he hasn’t hit his four-year stride. With Servais mentioning the speed game, you wonder if he would like to see more of that in the leadoff spot. Ketel Marte could also fit the bill when it comes to speed and he is in the mix.
“Probably more against left-handed pitching, it fits there for us,” Servais said of Marte. “You will see him more at the top of the lineup against left-handers.”
While nothing is etched in stone as far as moves go, the goal is to get to the set lineup, be it every day or versus left or right. Martin and Marte will get a look.