Mariners’ Dipoto ‘not too worried’ about Kolten Wong’s slow start

Apr 14, 2023, 1:38 PM | Updated: 1:46 pm

Seattle Mariners Kolten Wong...

Kolten Wong of the Seattle Mariners bats on April 1, 2023.. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners’ roster looks very similar to last year’s team, with a few new faces sprinkled in.

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On the hitting side of things, the two biggest names to join the Mariners were outfielder Teoscar Hernández and second baseman Kolten Wong.

Neither has gotten off to the best start this year, but Wong has struggled far more than Hernández, who has three home runs and is slashing .294/.333/.588 with three home runs over his past eight games after some real early struggles.

Wong, meanwhile, is slashing just .105/.205/.105 in 44 plate appearances to open 2023.

During his weekly interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto shared what he’s seeing from the M’s new second baseman.

“I think obviously the guy who has struggled the most is Kolten Wong,” Dipoto said. “… We’ve had some guys start slowly in the first week and they get going, but Kolten has been the one who’s not really found any traction despite, I think, making good swing decisions until very recently.”

Dipoto noted that Wong didn’t get off to a great start last season in Milwaukee before putting together maybe the best offensive season of his career.

“I’m not too worried about it. I think it’s one of those things that will solve itself,” Dipoto said. “But it’d be nice for him to go out and have a couple of multi-hit games just to feel good about where he’s at. He’s been a very consistent and productive player in this league who’s had a rough couple of weeks in his new uniform, and that’s never easy for a player. So I’d like see it, just for his own sense of relief.”

When looking at Wong’s start to the year, many of his underlying metrics are good, Dipoto said.

“Particularly as it relates to his swing decisions, his bat speed, it’s all trending up. Oddly enough, he’s made what are excellent to elite-level swing decisions. It just hasn’t really found any results,” he said. “And over the course of a 40- or 50-plate appearance stretch in a big league season, you’re gonna run into that … It’s frustrating or disappointing for him that those 40 or 50 at-bats were right out of the chute.

“But if they were 40 or 50, at bats in June or July where he’s making great decisions and getting no results, I don’t think we would even be having this discussion. But it’s not, and I would like to see him get on track.”

Seattle Mariners injury updates

The Mariners have a few key players banged up right now in utility man Dylan Moore (oblique), star reliever Andrés Muñoz (deltoid strain) and starting pitcher Robbie Ray (flexor strain).

Dipoto didn’t have much of an update on Ray, but he did share some promising news as it relates to Moore and Muñoz.

“Dylan is back in Seattle this weekend for some rehab work, and we’re hoping to get him off to start a rehab assignment in the not too distant future,” he said. “Taking it slow. We want to make sure that when he gets back on the field, it is permanent from an oblique perspective … Those things are so unpredictable. He’s an important player for the the entirety of our season, so we want to make sure he’s there for as much of it as he can be.”

As for Muñoz, the hard-throwing reliever is now playing catch.

“I don’t suspect that we are going to be without Andrés for very long,” Dipoto said. “It is why we shut him down was just to be proactive on the front end of this. The weather has been cold, he didn’t have a full spring training, so the fact that he was feeling a little sensitive in the shoulder area was probably not entirely shocking, and we took the opportunity just to shut him down … It’ll be nice to get him back. I do suspect it will be sooner than later, and my guess is he’s probably going to be back sometime in April.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Wednesday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Listen to this week’s edition at this link or in the podcast below.

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