BROCK AND SALK
Mariners’ Dipoto shares his thoughts on skid, slumping offense
Jerry Dipoto has been with the Mariners for only a third of the team’s 21-year playoff drought, but he’s understanding of how Seattle’s untimely slump in the last week is being received by a postseason-starved fanbase.
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“I said it last night, and I say this somewhat jokingly – we are feeding the anxieties of 20 years of disappointment with Mariners fans,” Seattle’s president of baseball operations and general manager said Thursday morning on Seattle Sports’ Jerry Dipoto Show.
The Mariners went into play Thursday having lost five of their last six games, including back-to-back losses to the last-place Oakland Athletics where Seattle’s offense managed just two runs and five hits combined. Even so, they haven’t lost much ground in the wild card chase, sitting four games ahead of Baltimore for the final postseason berth in the American League (technically 4 1/2 games as Seattle owns the tiebreaker over the Orioles).
“We’re still in a very good position,” Dipoto said. “Right now we’re not our own friend, (but) right now we are being helped greatly by the fact that other contending teams decided that this was also going to be their time to go through the ‘We can’t score’ desert. While we’ve been struggling, until last night I don’t think we lost a single game in the standings, and that’s probably the silver lining in our struggle.”
Not that it makes watching the Mariners’ struggle any easier.
“As far as the frustrations go, we feel it just like anybody who’s watching the game, just like the fan watches, just like everybody who works at the Mariners,” Dipoto said of Seattle’s baseball operations. “And we want this as much for (the team) as they want it for them, but you can’t push it, you can’t force it. It’s going to happen at the pace that it’s going to happen, and as frustrated as anyone can be, you’ve got to find a way the next day to come and deliver positive energy. Because if I’m being honest, I woke up this morning thinking, ‘Man, I delivered too much negative energy last night. I gotta figure out how to get on the other side of the coin.'”
That negative energy comes from seeing Seattle’s offense fail to do what it’s done for the better part of this season. Part of that is the fact that several key Mariners hitters have been hurt, whether it’s true a injury like the finger fracture that landed home run and RBIs leader Eugenio Suárez on the 10-day injured list or various strains and soreness that have held out Mitch Haniger, Julio Rodríguez and others.
“We hit homers, and that’s how we score. We’re that type of team,” Dipoto said. “When you’re missing your best power hitters, when those guys are out of the lineup and/or if they’re in the lineup (and) they’re not feeling it and they’re not 100%, it’s certainly going to affect the way your offense looks. One thing I know about teams that play offense the way we play, and we’re not the only team in the league that’s built the way we are, it tends to look listless when you’re not hitting bombs because we’re not likely to string together three and four hits in an inning. That’s just not how our lineup generally operates.”
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How much are hitters being less than 100% hurting Seattle?
“I think it’s killing us, to be honest with you,” Dipoto said. “It’s really been the driver behind this week. It’s waiting for Dylan Moore to get back from an oblique. It’s waiting for Mitch Haniger to get back from the low back. It’s losing Julio for a series, or the better part of it, with a low back. It’s not having access to Cal Raleigh because of his thumb. And if you think about all of this, in addition to Geno (Suárez) and whatever maladies fall in between whether it’s a tight hamstring here, it’s just that time of year.”
As for how that’s playing out in the batter’s box, Dipoto painted a troubling picture, though one that can be corrected – and appeared to be on the way toward that with a three-run first inning Thursday against the A’s.
“We’re one of the more disciplined teams in the league in terms of the pitches we choose to swing at, and right now we’re not swinging at those pitches with the same type of regularity and we’re swinging at the bad ones. And when we swing at them, we’re off-balance. Hitting is about balance and transition, and right now you’ve got a lot of guys that are leaking with their front side. They’re opening up just that little extra bit trying to do that thing, whether it’s the two-run homer, whether it’s the double in the gap to get things started. But when you’re trying to do those things, you’re almost always trying to pull the ball, and if what you’re trying to do is pull the ball hard in the air and you are leaking out on your front side to do it, you’re making yourself more susceptible to a variety of different pitches that you usually can’t handle. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Dipoto believes in his team and is optimistic a turnaround is coming.
“Right now, the feel to hit, guys haven’t really been in a good place. They’ve not been where they typically are so we have been more reliant on that bomb to score our runs, and at some point the worm will turn for us. We have a good lineup, and we have the ability to handle good pitching because we are disciplined in what we do. But right now it’s about not swinging at the bad pitch. It’s about making sure you get a good pitch to hit because unless you get that pitch, you’re just not going to be able to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. every Thursday during Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports 710 AM. You can listen to this week’s edition in the podcast at this link or in the player below.
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