Rost: 5 Mariners takeaways from talking to MLB insiders, the team

Jul 12, 2022, 10:41 AM | Updated: 11:43 am

Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners hits a single against the Padres on July 5 in San Diego. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

It’s been all fun and games with our recent Mariners interviews on Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy – and by that, we mean we learned one of the team’s most fun players is pretty serious about one thing, and that the bullpen arms play a game that doesn’t sound very fun at all (don’t worry, it’s all in the name of competitiveness).

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Here are five takeaways from Mariners guests we’ve talked to in the last week or so.

It doesn’t take long for people to realize Julio Rodríguez is different.

MLB Network and Apple TV play-by-play commentator Stephen Nelson met with the 21-year-old All-Star rookie before the start of the season for an interview on the Intentional Talk podcast. Rodríguez had already been told by the Mariners that he’d be breaking camp with the team, and Nelson, along with his co-host Kevin Millar, wanted to speak to one of baseball’s very best prospects ahead of his major league debut.

It didn’t take long for Rodríguez to make an impression.

“As soon as we were done with the interview, Kevin and I and our producer were like, ‘That kid’s it, man. He’s him,'” Nelson said to us last Friday before calling a Mariners win over the Blue Jays that night. “He’s got every tool that you’d want in between the lines and then he’s got the extra ones that tell you he can be the face of the franchise… I know folks don’t want to be too hyperbolic or get carried away, but the JRod show has exceeded everybody’s expectations, which were already high.”

The fun-loving Rodríguez is serious about a few things.

Mariners third base coach Manny Acta had plenty of praise for Rodríguez’s passion and energy, but was careful to note the rookie takes pregame preparation seriously.

“Julio’s special,” Acta said. “Julio has a love and passion for this game and an energy that’s unmatched, but he also prepares himself very, very well. He’s disciplined when it comes to his daily work. It’s something you don’t see very often in 21-year-old players. This guy has an agenda of what he needs to do every single day to get him prepared for the game. And then you see him out there just enjoying every single at-bat and every single play he has in the outfield, and I hope that he never loses that passion and that energy that he has right now.”

It’s a good time to be hot in the competitive AL.

The Mariners are one of baseball’s hottest teams – along with the Baltimore Orioles (they both have eight-game winning streaks entering Tuesday) – but Seattle is not out of the woods yet. Another bat or a reliever at this summer’s trade deadline would help, as would getting outfielders Mitch Haniger and Kyle Lewis back in the lineup. But USA Today’s Bob Nightengale thinks Seattle is in a pretty good spot, all things considered.

“I think going into the season we all thought this team is built to make the playoffs and it’s going to be a colossal embarrassment if they don’t, unless there’s a ton of injuries or something that’s gone wrong,” Nightengale said Monday. “The team was supposed to make the playoffs, and it looks like they should. Ty France is having a marvelous year – I would hope he still gets selected to the All-Star team (as an injury replacement). Same way with Logan Gilbert – he’s been the most consistent starter on that staff…

“Right now if you look at the American League it’s the Yankees and Astros in a tier by themselves, and then there’s everybody else. And you could certainly argue that the Mariners, with the way they’re playing, are as good as the Red Sox or the Rays, or certainly better than anybody in the AL Central.”

Keep dreamin’ on Luis Castillo…

Starting pitching has kept this team competitive, but there’s a fair amount of concern over depth. Don’t hold out hope that Seattle will get Cincinnati’s Castillo, who may be one of the best arms available at the trade deadline, though.

“You’re gonna get a team’s two of their top five prospects, maybe three of their top 10,” Nightengale said. “I think the asking price is going to be way too high for Seattle and for many other teams.”

The Mariners bullpen has a contest to hold each other accountable.

Reliever Erik Swanson said the Mariners bullpen arms are focused on cutting down walks, and it’s become a game of accountability.

“Leadoff walks and two-out walks, we kind of let each other hear it when those happen,” Swanson said last Thursday. “We keep a tally after every series, and at the beginning of every new series we do a meeting and those guys get called out a little bit and it gets brought up on a spreadsheet in our conference room, and we kind of let each other know and hold each other accountable of where we’re at. So it’s pretty fun.”

More on the Mariners from

ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian: Julio will be one of MLB’s best “soon”
Fann: Mariners are worthy of your emotional investment
Brock & Salk’s big takeaway from this huge M’s surge
M’s Breakdown: Hot streak, trade targets with Bob & Rowland-Smith
Mariners On Fire: Three things jumping out from their stellar run

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