Do Mariners have options to help with offensive drop-off at SS, 1B?

Aug 17, 2016, 12:24 PM | Updated: 12:41 pm
Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte has struggled at the plate since returning from a DL stint for mono....
Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte has struggled at the plate since returning from a DL stint for mono. (AP)

The Mariners have averaged 4.8 runs per game en route to winning nine of their last 11 games, so it may be splitting hairs to mention the elephants in the infield. But if Seattle is to push through to the postseason, it wouldn’t hurt to have more production from shortstop Ketel Marte and the righty-lefty platoon of Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee at first base.

Since returning Aug. 9 from a bout with mono, Marte is 2 for 22 at the plate with seven strikeouts. Lind and Lee, meanwhile, have a combined .131 batting average over their past 38 at-bats. Lee, who entertained and excited with his early-season heroics is in the midst of an even bigger slump, with 15 strikeouts and only four hits in his last 48 at-bats.

“Brock and Salk” discussed the team’s options at both positions on Tuesday and ultimately agreed that Seattle’s best move at shortstop would be to send Marte to Triple-A for more at-bats until rosters expand on Sept. 1 and lean on utility infielder Shawn O’Malley, who has nine hits in August, including two home runs.

“I would send Marte back down to the minors and let him play every day, work with (Tacoma hitting coach) Scott Brosius, which seems to have worked wonders for players this year, and get himself back to what he was at the beginning of the year,” Mike Salk said. “He is a better upside player than O’Malley, but right now O’Malley is actually hitting the ball better and his defense has been good enough for you to win games. I want the Ketel Marte we saw early and I don’t think you can get that by having him sit a few days a week.”

The Mariners have one less option at shortstop after sending Luis Sardinas to the Padres on Monday. Sardinas hit .151/.203/.254 in 32 games over three stints with the big-league club.

Salk was less inclined to make any drastic moves at first base, despite a few potential options in the minors, including Dan Vogelbach, the highly-touted lefty acquired from the Cubs in the trade that sent pitcher Mike Montgomery to Chicago on July 20. Vogelbach might be Seattle’s future at the position but the 23 year old hasn’t hit well in his first 26 games with Tacoma, posting a .195/.381/.310 slash line.

There’s also highly-rated prospect D.J. Peterson, a righty who can play both corner infield spots and stung the ball with success in 73 games in Double-A. In 40 games in Triple-A, he has a .255/.312/.439 split with seven home runs and 34 RBIs. He, too, is mired in a mini-slump, with one hit in his last 19 at-bats.

Another option is utility player Stefen Romero, who has MLB experience and is capable at first.

Brock Huard said he’s seen improvement in Lind’s play defensively and believes Lee is a dangerous righty bat off the bench, even if he’s struggled of late.

“I think he ran out of gas. I think this league has adjusted to him a little bit,” Huard said. “I think that strike zone with umpires caught up to him a little bit.”

Salk said he’d continue with the current platoon, saying that although Lind has been streaky, he has actually played better of late. He’s also still holding out hope that Lee re-finds his form.

“In this case, unlike with Marte, I’m going to trust him as an older, professional hitter to work his way through this even though he’s not getting as many at-bats,” he said. “I’d allow him to keep playing against lefties. Then, in two weeks, if you want to start using Stefen Romero or some of your other options, then it’s a conversation, but I’m not making any changes with Dae-Ho Lee.”

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