Listen to Seattle Sports: Mariners face Astros in series finale

SEATTLE MARINERS

How Julio Rodríguez has impressed Mariners legend Mike Cameron in CF

Jul 22, 2022, 1:21 PM

Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Julio Rodriguez dives and catches a hit by Francisco Lindor at Citi Field on May 13, 2022. (Elsa/Getty Images)

(Elsa/Getty Images)

There’s a lot of attention — rightfully so —being placed on Mariners rookie Julio Rodríguez’s bat after his incredible first half of 2022 as well as his recent showing in the MLB Home Run Derby. But he’s more than just a slugger.

Morosi: Servais as ‘capable and effective’ a manager as there is in MLB

Rodríguez is also one of MLB’s best base stealers, ranking third in that category entering Friday’s game against the Astros, but he’s also been more than serviceable in center field. In fact, the rookie has been pretty dang defensively in the middle of the outfield.

Because Rodríguez is a big man at 6-foot-3 and roughly 230 pounds, many expect him to wind up at a corner outfield spot in the major leagues. Instead, he’s turning heads with his play in center field.

Someone who Rodríguez has made a real believer out of is Mariners legend Mike Cameron, a three-time Gold Glove center fielder who is now a special assignment coach for the organization, regularly working with outfielders.

“He told me three years ago that he was going to play center field and I was like, ‘You’re going to be too big to play center field. You’re going to be in right field, and that’s where you’re going to make your money at,'” Cameron said Friday to The Mike Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM. “And he definitely changed all of that by the way his body changed. His body changed in the way he shaped up and the way he’s been out there.”

Salk wanted to know whether the 2001 All-Star was the one to teach Rodríguez how to play center field at the big league level.

“Not at all, man. Me, myself, Ichiro and I would say Franklin Gutierrez have all kind of mixed in the pot in helping him in different facets,” he said. “But the kid works hard and he was determined.”

Not a bad trio of former Gold Glove outfielders to learn from, huh?

As mentioned, Cameron and others around baseball all expected Rodríguez to end up playing left or right field once he reached the big leagues. So what has Cameron seen from the Mariners center fielder in his rookie season from a defensive standpoint?

“When I started watching him up close and personal when the season started, I was like, ‘Dang, he’s really good out there.’ And he’s fast, and that helps a lot,” Cameron said. “But his work habits are good, and I guess a lot of that contributes to the day-to-day process with coach (Kristopher) Negron … (Us coaches) all have little tidbits in the guys getting better, but Julio didn’t need much work. They asked me a couple weeks ago like, ‘What do you think he needs to work on?’ Not much, just repetition and the comfort. Because my biggest thing is center field is what’s your comfort around the wall? And he does it very well.”

Part of what makes Rodríguez so special is that it’s clear he’s liked and respected by his peers.

That was on full display during All-Star Game festivities, namely when the rookie slugged 81 home runs in the Home Run Derby.

“He has a good aura, man. And he’s very humble about it, but he’s very, very confident and he’s very good. I don’t care who you are, you’ve got to respect guys that play the game very well,” Cameron said. “But more importantly, he acts like he’s been there and done it before, but he casually and humbly does that over the course of his time right now. And he does that with a smile on his face. It’s refreshing. He gets excited about everything, he doesn’t take it for granted, man, and he’s really good. His talent is like really, really special, and we saw that with him being All-Star worthy.”

Listen to the full interview with Cameron, including why he burned sage in the Mariners’ clubhouse in Houston, at this link or in the player below.

Mariners Table Setter: 3 things that could help M’s catch Astros

Brock and Salk podcast

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Sunny
High 81° | Low 57°
Roof is open
Astros at Mariners today at 1:10pm

Seattle Mariners

Houston Astros Yainer Diaz Seattle Mariners 2024...

Tim Booth

Mariners fall out of first place, drop 5th straight in 4-2 loss to Astros

The Seattle Mariners muster just three hits and suffer their season-high fifth straight loss, falling 4-2 to the Houston Astros.

17 hours ago

Seattle Mariners T-Mobile Park batter's eye...

Brent Stecker

Does Mariners’ T-Mobile Park need a change to attract hitters?

"I think that this is something that is fixable. There are elements to your ballpark that are not fixable," MLB Network's Jon Morosi said.

1 day ago

Seattle Mariners Houston Astros Trey Cabbage 2024...

Tim Booth

Astros shut out Mariners 3-0, move into virtual tie atop AL West

The Seattle Mariners mustered just four hits and lost their hold on first place in the AL West with a 3-0 loss to the Houston Astros.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners Bryan Woo Los Angeles Angels 2024 Getty 900...

Cameron Van Til

Servais explains Mariners’ rotation strategy for Astros series

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais detailed why they plan to start Bryan Woo instead of Logan Gilbert in Sunday's series finale.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners Gabe Speier Kansas City Royals 2024...

Cameron Van Til

Key Mariners reliever returns, recent addition DFA’d

The Seattle Mariners activated left-handed reliever Gabe Speier from the injured list and designated reliever Mike Baumann for assignment.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners trade deadline Isaac Paredes Andrés Muñoz Logan Gilbert...

Brent Stecker

ESPN’s Passan: One hitter makes most sense for a Mariners trade

The MLB trade deadline market may be squished, but the Seattle Mariners may still be able to make a run at Tampa Bay slugger Isaac Paredes, says ESPN's Jeff Passan.

2 days ago

How Julio Rodríguez has impressed Mariners legend Mike Cameron in CF