Blowers details what he’s seeing from new Mariners’ Winker and Suárez
The Mariners will try to turn things around offensively during a tough 10-game road trip starting Friday evening against the New York Mets, and a couple of new Seattle players will be looked to to generate some runs for this team.
Two players who came to the Mariners in the same offseason deal are third baseman Eugenio Suárez and left fielder Jesse Winker. That duo were moved from the Cincinnati Reds to Seattle in order to help drive in runs.
Suárez has had his moments but overall is slashing .203/.304/.424 while Winker, an All-Star starter in 2021, is struggling to hit the ball hard and is slashing .207/.316/.276 with only six extra-base hits. Each player did pick up a hit on Friday against the Mets, with Winker driving in one of two Mariners runs in the 2-1 win.
So what has ROOT Sports Mariners color commentator Mike Blowers seen from that duo so far this year? He gave some encouraging takeaways during a Thursday visit with Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob.
Suárez is hovering around a .200 average, but he has six home runs, 18 RBIs and 13 extra-base hits for the Mariners this season.
Blowers said Suárez has shown both this season and in his career that he’s a streaky hitter.
“I think you can look at his body of work as a player … and he’s gonna hit 30 homers, and the strikeouts are going to be there,” he said. “I think to expect something different doesn’t make a lot of sense just because that’s who he is and that’s what he’s been. So I think he can get hot at times, he’ll probably carry you for a month, and then have times where he’s gonna struggle. and I think we’ve kind of seen both ends of that here in the early going.”
Where Suárez has also caught Blowers’ eye is with his defense. Blowers, a former big league third baseman, likes what he’s seen so far.
“Defensively, he’s been a pleasant surprise to me. I talked to (president of baseball operations) Jerry Dipoto about him at the end of spring training just because I hadn’t seen a lot of him because he was over in the National League … and I watched them throughout the spring and I was pleasantly surprised with what I was seeing,” Blowers said. “Jerry thought that the analytics and defensive metrics from last year were down, but part of that was because he had to go over play some shortstop, which he wasn’t comfortable doing. And what I’ve seen so far, I love his arm, it’s a strong arm, and he can make all the plays. I’ve watched him charge the ball, I’ve watched him make the backhanded play. He can do all of those things. And I think as the season goes on, he’s going to be really steady over there. I like him a lot. And I think his footwork has definitely cleaned up.”
Blowers also spoke to infield coach Perry Hill about Suárez’s play and the fielding guru has helped clean up some mistakes in terms of making accurate throws.
“Some of his issues was throwing because he has a strong arm and his footwork wasn’t quite right,” he said. “So Perry has cleaned that up and I think if you watch and go through the tape and watch him on his throws across the diamond, he’s been very accurate, and I think that’ll also be something that he’ll be able to maintain now that he has Perry kind of working with him on a daily basis. And then when I talk to Geno about it, he loves Perry and he said he’s made a world of difference for him. So I think defensively he’s going to be just fine.”
Winker has not lived up to his billing as one of baseball’s best and most dangerous hitters this season.
Blowers thinks that looking at Winker’s full 2022 stat line at this stage of the season is a mistake.
“I think for Jesse for the month of April, especially the first three weeks, he hit into such bad luck. It was unbelievable. I think he was the most unlucky person in the big leagues at one point for the exit velocity and the way he was squaring it up and the lack of hits he was getting,” Blowers said. “I think lately over the last week and a half or two weeks he’s probably been one of the luckiest guys, and he’s starting to get his hits. But I don’t think you can look at the overall.”
Over his last 10 to 15 games, Winker has had an uptick, Blowers said.
“And that’s kind of what I look (for). Are they improving? Are they moving forward? He’s on that trend,” he said.
So what’s the next step for Winker this season?
“Just start driving the ball into the gap and out of the ballpark. He’s starting to get his hits, so his confidence I think is starting to get there for him,” Blowers said. ” He was really frustrated I’m sure that the way the season started. But what’s he going to do moving forward from this point? You lean on what he’s done in his career. I look back at his last 10 games and you kind of move forward from there. When you start off and you struggle the way he did as far as getting hits, it’s going to take time for your average to get to a point that’s going to make everybody happy to look at the overall. But what’s he doing from this point forward? What’s he going to do from the All-Star Break and past that? Is he going to be a .300 hitter? I’ll take it. But I think you have to get to that point first.”
The Mariners also figure to get a boost in the lineup in about two weeks or so with 2020 Rookie of the Year outfielder Kyle Lewis inching closer to a return from a knee injury.
Lewis is in the middle of a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma and enters Friday slashing .350/.409/.700 with two home runs in five games.
Blowers is looking forward to Lewis making an impact for the Mariners once he’s fully healthy and ready.
“I think he’s probably going to DH for the most part to keep him healthy. I think that getting his bat in the middle of the lineup is certainly going to help this club,” Blowers said. “We’ve talked about it, they’ve struggled to score runs and be consistent offensively. So I think for Kyle at the DH, I think they can manage that situation for him. But more importantly, that’s going to put some pop in the middle of their lineup, which is certainly going to help.”
Listen to the full discussion at this link or in the player below.