SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: Julio Rodríguez fine, undeterred after wall crash

Feb 27, 2023, 2:34 PM

Mariners Julio Rodríguez...

Mariners CF Julio Rodríguez blows a bubble during a 2023 spring training game against the Padres. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

“How close was it?” Mariners center fielder Julio Rodríguez asked of his attempted catch at the wall Monday that resulted in some nervous moments as he needed a few extra moments, hands on knees, to recover from the play.

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It was very close, but it was a spring training game and maybe not what you want to see from your star player. Maybe play it a bit safer there, no? Well, according to Rodríguez, who said he was fine after the play against the White Sox – an Elvis Andrus triple – and just had the wind knocked out of him, no.

“I feel like I totally use my abilities whenever I have the opportunity of doing so,” he said. “I feel I’m not always going out there reckless. If a play comes to me, I’m ready for it. Instead of, like, I was going out of control kind of reckless in a way? I prepare myself every time that I ask my body to do something, it going to go out there and do it. I feel like that’s kind of what I manage. Just going to be smart, but at the same time knowing that whenever the play is going to come like that, I’m ready to go.”

He did admit plays at the wall do carry a little extra as he has yet to make a home run-stealing play in the big leagues.

“I did it in the minors (two times) but I haven’t done it in the big leagues yet,” he said. “So I’m excited for that.”

The excitement was very evident on his face, start to finish of the media session. Rare is the player that shows such excitement for a spring training game, but the key word for Rodríguez is game.

“I feel like you’ve got to hold yourself to a high standard no matter what game you’re playing,” he said. “I don’t want to go to take a bad at-bat because it’s spring training, or I don’t want to say ‘Oh, I’m going to save it for the season.’ I feel like every time I step on the field, I want to win. I know it’s a spring training game, but there’s a score. So I feel like I’m trying to win or help the guys to kind of like lift everybody up to win. So I feel like it doesn’t matter if it’s spring training, regular season, the backfield, whatever – I feel I’m just trying to win.”

Mariners notes

• Chris Flexen threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut Monday. Well aware of the rumors that he could be traded, he has remained focused on moving forward this camp.

“I’m still wearing Mariners across my chest, I’m happy to be here,” he said. “This is a great group of guys, they’re fun to be around and it’s fun to lace it up with them every night.”

Flexen threw all four of his pitches against the White Sox, including the slider, which he threw sparingly in 2022. It’s a pitch he worked on this offseason, one he feels could benefit him this season.

“The curveball for me last year was just a far below-average pitch,” he explained. “I just couldn’t figure it out; I had a good one in ’21. I don’t think I am going to completely get rid of it but I needed a breaking ball. When I started working on the slider last year I had good results with it, it felt good throwing it and was a pitch I want to continue throwing.”

• Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, who have been held back a bit this spring, will make their debuts this week with Gilbert starting Thursday against San Diego and Kirby on the hill Saturday versus the Rockies.

• Funny sight and sound Monday morning as catcher Tom Murphy, who is perhaps the loudest player in camp this year, chased outfielder Jarred Kelenic out of the weight room.

“Jarred!” he bellowed as he chased the laughing Kelenic. “Put the weights down! It’s yoga time, not weight time!”

Mariners Notebook: Jarred Kelenic displays a new approach with two-homer day

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