SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: Fresh off electric debut, Julio Rodríguez back in CF

Mar 19, 2022, 12:21 PM | Updated: 1:44 pm
Mariners Julio Rodríguez...
Julio Rodríguez waits on second base during a March 4, 2021 Cactus League game against Colorado. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With all of the regulars getting into the Mariners’ Cactus League opener Friday, a decidedly different yet interesting lineup for the team on Saturday as they take on the Dodgers in Peoria at 1 p.m. on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Marco sharp, Julio provides highlight in M’s spring opener

Lineup!

Dylan Moore, 2B
Abraham Toro, 3B
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Cal Raleigh, C
Luis Torrens, DH
Steven Souza Jr., RF
Taylor Trammell, LF
Mike Ford, 1B
Donovan Walton, SS

Levi Stoudt, SP

All eyes will be on Julio Rodríguez making his first Cactus League start this year with buzz still floating around the complex after the results of his first at bat of the spring, a 117 mph off the bat laser of a home run out to left.

Watch: Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez blasts huge homer in first spring AB

“Do you know how many balls were hit 117 or over last year in the majors?” Mariners manager Scott Servais quizzed the media Saturday morning.

That would be 37, Skip.

The power is very much known, but what has impressed the manager has been the swing decisions.

“That was some kind of swing he put on yesterday. It’s pretty electric,” he said. “What’s just as impressive was working the walk after that. If he doesn’t chase, sky’s the limit. There will be times when he does chase, but being able to hone it in and get the ball he can hammer?”

Rodríguez, who is getting a look in center this spring, also received good marks for his work in the field.

“He looks really good. Very natural for him. Not too much phases him. He’s off to a great start, obviously,” said Servais.

Rodríguez will face the challenges that all outfielders face in Arizona, with high skies, swirling winds and suspect backdrops making many baseballs in the air less than a sure thing. It is what it is, but the Mariners should have ample opportunity to assess if he is a viable option in center.

And the bat?

“There’s a lot to dream about there, what he can grow into,” said Servais.

Mariners notes

• Levi Stoudt, who is on the hill to start Saturday, is a pitcher who could figure into a battle for the fifth starter spot if a player from the outside is not acquired before opening day.

“He’s got starter stuff,” said Servais. “He’s got a good changeup/split along with the breaking ball. The fastball is 94-97 mph. He looks like a starter to me. He’s really athletic, he repeats his delivery well. I’ve got him more in the starter bucket than I have in the past. I’m intrigued.”

Stoudt has been in Arizona since the start of the Mariners’ Dominate the Zone camp in early January and is stretched out. He is scheduled to throw three innings, pitch count permitting.

• Evan White, who is coming back from hip labrum surgery, was originally in Saturday’s starting lineup but was scratched after feeling soreness. The Mariners want White at 100% before putting him back in games.

Drayer: Evan White returns to Mariners with newfound perspective

• Servais opened his media session with words about John Clayton, who passed away Friday. A huge Green Bay Packers fan, Servais remembered his talks on the Seattle Sports 710 AM airwaves with Clayton fondly.

“The few interviews I ever did with John, I always had to put it in football terms,” Servais said with a smile. “I think he was a baseball fan, but not maybe a purist so I always put it in football terms. I actually liked doing it that way. We would talk about our bullpen and I would put it in down and distance and what kind of defense it would be, ‘a cover 2, John, and we will be looking to go that way with the slot receiver.'”

Then there was, of course, Clayton’s iconic ESPN commercial.

“I think his personality really came out,” he said. “I’m sure everybody in Seattle has a heavy heart today. He meant a lot to not just Seattle sports but the NFL in general. … He will be missed for sure.”

Podcasts: Tribute show remembering “The Professor” John Clayton

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