Jesse Winker and Mariners feel ‘some urgency’ to ‘rewrite this narrative’
The Mariners were counting on 2021 All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker to be a key contributor in 2022. Unfortunately through the first 46 games of the season, that hasn’t happened.
After slashing .305/.394/.556 in 110 games for the Cincinnati Reds last season, Winker is slashing just .216/.314/.296 with two home runs and nine total extra-base hits.
So what are the Mariners seeing from Winker so far? And what does Winker think about his season so far and going forward? Here’s what he and Mariners third base coach Manny Acta told Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Wyman and Bob on Friday.
For Acta, a longtime MLB coach, he thinks that Winker is a great fit for the Mariners’ clubhouse.
“He’s a great guy, just as everybody has noticed,” he said. “He’s got a good personality. Unfortunately, things have not gone his way here offensively.”
Acta said that Winker, like most players going to new teams, wants to impress his teammates, the coaches and the fans “and show why they traded for you.” While Winker’s first month-plus in Seattle haven’t gone to plan, Acta thinks he’s on the right track.
“We’ve seen some flashes … and then at times, he goes back again. At the beginning of the season, he had some bad luck on some hard-hit balls, and then some soft ones fell for him. So I think he’s about breaking out of it,” Acta said. “He had some better at-bats in Boston and here that even if he didn’t have much to show for it, we can tell by the swing and how on time he is with his front foot. He’s gonna be able to lift the ball and help us out.”
With Winker and the Mariners as a whole “scuffling,” Acta said Winker has “got to be very careful” in not trying to not do too much or “place all the blame on you.”
“So hopefully Jesse can just take it one at-bat at a time and continue to work in,” Acta said. “He’s got the track record, so it’s impossible for this guy to continue to go through the season the way he’s gone so far. We’re counting on him.”
Winker told Wyman and Bob that he does feel “some urgency” to “start playing better.”
“As an athlete, you want to come in and do your job, and you want to perform well, and that’s what you’re here to do. And I think anybody who puts on this uniform could agree to that,” Winker said.
Not only is Winker feeling some personal urgency, he said the Mariners, who enter Saturday’s game at eight games under .500, feel that urgency as a team as well.
“We’re kind of ready to rewrite this narrative. We’re just going to keep chipping away at it,” he said. “It’s so easy to say ‘it’s 162 games,’ but these games go by fast and these months they fly by, so I definitely believe that we’ve got some urgency. And it’s a good one, too. No one’s panicking. Everybody’s just kind of ready to go out and play our brand of baseball. That’s all you can really do.”
As far as his personal performance at the plate is concerned, Winker said there are “things I need to be better at.”
“You need to get better and you need to make adjustments, and that’s what I’m doing right now,” he said. “I’m figuring some things out about myself when it comes to hitting and I’m going to implement them. I’m excited about that.”
So how does Winker go about improving at the plate without “pressing” or trying too hard?
“I think you just pay attention more. I think you kind of go the opposite way,” he said. “… I just start paying attention. What are guys doing to me? How are they playing me? Where am I hitting the ball? How am I hitting the ball? How am I loading? Just kind of what do I look like? And then you go from there, and then you can make adjustments.”
“It’s just my job to come out here and play better and that’s just as simple and as raw as I can give it to you,” he later added.