Playing time has allowed Mariners’ Shawn O’Malley to find his groove

Aug 18, 2016, 10:21 AM | Updated: 12:47 pm

ANAHEIM, Calif. – After two days out of the Mariners’ lineup, Shawn O’Malley’s name was back on the card Wednesday night.

“He’s earned the right to play. There’s no doubt,” manager Scott Servais said before the game, noting that he would probably play Thursday at shortstop as well.

Entering Wednesday, O’Malley was hitting .289/.379/.434 in 32 games since July 1 – terrific numbers for a utility player. And even though he was just 1 for 4 on Wednesday, he still helped out the team, dropping down a bunt single that ended up scoring Leonys Martin all the way from second base. While O’Malley’s steady defense at shortstop was needed when Ketel Marte was out with mono, his offensive production has been an appreciated bonus.

Part of his uptick in numbers is due to getting more consistent playing time. O’Malley has done his part, but Servais has done his as well, making O’Malley feel comfortable and confident in his position on the team. Support from his manager has been key, according to O’Malley.

“They’re really positive, they don’t let me overthink situations,” he said. “They want me to be aggressive and play my game. What’s got me here is being aggressive but not careless. They want me to take chances, be that spark and they have let me know, ‘Hey, if you can get that bag, take it. If you can stretch it into a double, go for it.’ Not putting chains on me, I guess, as far as taking away from me what makes me different. They’ve just done a really good job of building my confidence.”

There isn’t a feeling that any at-bat could be his last. For a guy who has been up and down between the majors and Triple-A the last three years and has yet to make an opening-day roster (although he put up ridiculous numbers this spring), that’s huge. It’s tough to swing a bat when you’re looking over your shoulder.

“The fact that they free you up and say, ‘Just go be yourself. You get a pinch-hit late in the game, don’t sit back and try to take pitches, be aggressive, go after it,'” he said. “It doesn’t mean I have to swing, but it might be I take advantage of a bunt there. The fact that they loosen the reins or just confirm, ‘Hey, just play, be yourselves, do what got you here,’ it’s helped out tremendously and I think you are starting to see everyone relax and get in a groove. It’s contagious.”

O’Malley also believes the Mariners have taken to heart the message that Servais gave them at the beginning of the last home stand. With the trade deadline behind them and two months to go in the season, it was time to play. There’s no more settling in. The work has been done. This is the group. Let’s go.

“I think everyone is just having fun,” O’Malley said. “It’s honestly, we’ve got nothing to lose. We’re the underdogs so it’s like, let’s go out and have some fun and kick some butt. It’s been a blast. I think I spent more time in the dugout laughing (Saturday in Oakland) than paying attention to the game. And it was incredible.

“That’s the kind of atmosphere you want to have. Little kid in the backyard just joking around with your buddies. You always play your best, so we have a good thing going on right now and we are going to keep riding that wave and hopefully we ride it right into October.”

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Sunny
High 68° | Low 49°
Roof is open
Cubs at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brent Stecker

Mariners’ Luke Raley says he got ‘perfect pitch’ for gutsy bunt

The Seattle Mariners' Luke Raley told Shannon Drayer on the field Monday why a 99 mph fastball off the plate was the "perfect pitch" for his game-tying bunt single.

2 days ago

Seattle Mariners Ryan Bliss...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: The transition for rookie Ryan Bliss to big leagues

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports caught up with rookie second baseman Ryan Bliss a day after his first MLB home run.

3 days ago

Seattle Mariners starter Bryan Woo...

Shannon Drayer

How Mariners starter Bryan Woo’s fastballs are so effective

Hitters know they're probably getting a fastball from Seattle Mariners starter Bryan Woo, but they still can't hit it.

6 days ago

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz...

Shannon Drayer

Seattle Mariners closer Andrés Muñoz optimistic about ailing back

The Seattle Mariners are awaiting results of an MRI after closer Andrés Muñoz's collision at home plate against the Oakland A's.

7 days ago

Seattle Mariners Víctor Robles...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Insider: How M’s will use Víctor Robles; change for Kirby

A look into why Víctor Robles decided to join the Seattle Mariners and the team's plan for him, plus how pitching to Mitch Garver has introduced a change for George Kirby.

8 days ago

Seattle Mariners bullpen Andrés Muñoz...

Shannon Drayer

Mariners Bullpen: Andrés Muñoz update, new plan for prospect Evans

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports checks in from Oakland with an update on the status of closer Andrés Muñoz and other bullpen arms.

8 days ago

Playing time has allowed Mariners’ Shawn O’Malley to find his groove