Mariners Notebook: Latest on Marco Gonzales, Julio Rodríguez and more
PEORIA, Ariz. – The “reporting to camp in the best shape of their life” trope may actually carry a bit more relevance in a truncated spring training for the Mariners and the rest of baseball.
With less than a month to get players ready for the start of the season, teams no doubt waited anxiously to get eyes on their players for the first time following the 99-day MLB-instituted lockout.
The Mariners appear pleased with what they have seen in the first few days. In some regards, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The offseason is anything but for players – save for a month, it is a season of work for most. Players are invested in their offseason work, far removed from the days when spring training was for getting in shape.
Still, without the ability to communicate with players due to lockout rules, there was the chance that something could be lost. Mariners manager Scott Servais pointed out Wednesday morning that the Mariners did their best to avoid this with their “Best Version of Yourselves” – or BVY – meetings held throughout the offseason and reinforced just before the lockout.
“I think they’re very effective,” Servais said of the meetings. “It’s probably one of the best things or the most effective things we do.”
The preparation for the individual meetings, which are held with players organization-wide, is an all-encompassing, four-phase process that draws from many corners of the system.
“It’s all the analysts taking the numbers – they have ideas on how this player can improve, and you bring in the coaching staff, talking together with the analysts. ‘Can you really fix that? How do we get better at that?’ Then the coaches presenting it to the player.”
The meetings and plans are utilized throughout the year with Servais a firm believer that learning does not stop when a player reaches the minors. The presentation, which is mainly handled by the coaches, is critical. Without buy-in from the players, the Mariners have nothing more than a good plan on paper or iPad.
“I think it’s critical, but the only way it works is if you get feedback from the player,” said Servais. “Some meetings are longer than others. But there’s not seven goals. We limited it to there’s three, and those are performance on field stuff. Usually one offensive, the defensive goal and there might be some base running, high performance goals, things you need to focus on your body in the weight room. So it’s all-encompassing.”
Of course, this winter there was extra.
“‘Here’s the goal. Eventually we’ll have spring training,’ so it was kind of give guys an idea what they should look like when they walk in the door. Guys look great.”
On second thought…
On the topic of readiness, one player has impressed enough to have Servais reverse course on the pitching plans for the Cactus League opener, which is set for 1:10 p.m. Friday live on Seattle Sports 710 AM.
Originally Servais thought the Mariners would go with a mix of players who had been in minor league pitching and mini-camps to pitch against the Padres on Friday in Peoria, but Servais said Wednesday that there had been a change of plans.
“Marco (Gonzales) is probably going to go out and pitch two to three innings in the first spring training game,” he said. “You’ll see the majority of guys after him are going to be guys that were in the minicamp that are up and going; they’re farther along. All clubs are going to be doing that would be my guess.”
Well here, of course. But where is Julio Rodríguez going to be playing this spring? Once again, keep an eye on the outfield.
“He’s moving awesome,” said Servais. “You’re going to see him center field a lot this spring. He’ll play all three outfield spots and take a look at it. I’ve seen him more on the corners, obviously, than I have center, but he’s running really well. He’s actually gotten faster. We certainly want to take a look at it. He’s gung-ho, he wants to do whatever he can.”
Me and my shadow?
Jarred Kelenic caught Jesse Winker’s eye on his first day as a Mariner while the two participated in a live hitting drill facing Chris Flexen and George Kirby. Servais was pleased to see the new Mariner take interest in Kelenic.
“Just watching (Kelenic) and Jesse Winker in the same hitting group was was pretty fun,” he said. “I think it is just going to help Jarred a lot, being a younger player when he first came up, coming out of high school, and then kind of figuring it out – and Jesse really likes to talk hitting, as well. Being both left-handed hitters, it’s just the instant connection you saw right away yesterday. I think that’ll really help.”
Kyle Lewis update
As the Mariners were not able to get eyes on Lewis during the lockout, they are taking things slow with the outfielder early in camp as he comes back from knee surgery that cut his 2021 season short.
“You won’t see Kyle on the field every day,” said Servais. “I was really pumped that he was out there yesterday. Then probably have more recovery day today and then hopefully keep building him up.”
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