Mariners Notebook: Kelenic gets his timing down with help from Souza
Thursday afternoon in Goodyear, Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic struck out looking in his first at-bat.
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The pitch was close and as there was a good vantage point from the press box, all eyes were on him as he walked back to the dugout. Would there be any of the displays of frustration that were often seen in similar circumstances last year?
We weren’t the only ones wondering.
Kelenic walked to the middle of the dugout, put down his bat, gently, took off his batting gloves, paired them up and placed them on the bench. Then, he took a spot on the top step at the rail.
“Hey, don’t let it frustrate you, you are going to be fine,” Steven Souza Jr. told him.
“I’m not mad about it,” said Kelenic. “He dotted. I tip my cap. I’m getting frustrated with myself because I’m not seeing the ball like I know I can.”
Souza asked Kelenic about his timing, specifically, what he was cuing off to get ready. Kelenic couldn’t really answer the question. For him, it was feel. He knew he was off but wasn’t sure why. So he did what you often see hitters do. He went to work on it. In the dugout.
“Murphy was up, and I was standing there like I was in the box and I was just looking at the pitcher and waiting until I usually would go and Souza was watching and said, ‘Yeah dude, that’s late.’ I’m like really? (And he replied) ‘Yeah. It’s really late.”
“When the pitcher breaks his hands get going,” Souza suggested.
Kelenic timed it up in the dugout and took it to the field.
“Next at-bat? Rocket,” Kelenic said of the 1-2 fastball up he took the other way for a single. “Next at-bat? Rocket to center. Every pitch I saw and I was spitting on pitches just off the zone, just down. I just saw everything. I haven’t felt that way in a year or more.”
It was just two at-bats, but sometimes that’s all it takes. Time will tell. But for now, the Souza observation left Kelenic in a good place.
“Yesterday, I can’t tell you how happy I was leaving the ballpark going like, I feel like I got it,” said Kelenic.
Kelenic is in the lineup against the White Sox tonight, batting eighth.
• Gonzales is making his second spring start and will be on a pitch count of 65-70 with the hope that he can pitch 4-5 innings.
• Relievers for the game: Festa, Giles, Muñoz, Sewald, Steckenrider, Sweet.
• So, what’s the plan in center as Julio Rodríguez continues to impress?
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“He’s off to a good start,” said Servais. “The quality of his at-bats have been good, he hits the ball as hard as anybody in our camp, he’s done a nice job in the outfield no matter where we throw him. Both he and Jarred will continue moving around. Eventually, we will settle on how this thing plays out and see what the timing for Julio is. I think everybody sees the talent, it’s just a matter of when he is ready to break through at the big league level.”
• No update on Evan White, who left Thursday’s game after feeling discomfort in his surgically repaired hip. He was scheduled to get an MRI Friday.
• Sergio Romo threw his first bullpen Friday and is hoping to get two to three appearances before camp breaks.
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He met with the media for 20 minutes earlier in the day and I will just say it was a pretty cool experience to hear from someone I have seen for 15 years across the field but knew little about. The story is coming, and it’s good. He should be a great fit in the Mariners clubhouse. One quick nugget however, Andrés Muñoz gave Romo his No. 54.
“It will cost me a couple of things here and there,” Romo said with a smile, referring to the gifts he would get for Muñoz. “It’s a kid I have known for a long time from his days in the academies down in Mexico. I’ve been partaking in those for quite awhile now. It’s so cool to be together now.”
So was Muñoz wearing No. 54 because of Romo?
“That would be pretty cool if he came in and said hey man, that’s the number because you wear it,” he said. “But maybe he does it because there’s some other Mexicans who have worn the same number before. Jaime Garcia, Jorge De La Rosa, Roberto Osuna, myself. There are quite a few who have worn 54 before that were on the Mexican side of things. I would assume it would be more of that than me individually.”
Scott Servais: Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic in great place for 2022