Have Mariners found their DH? Dipoto talks Mike Ford’s play

Jun 16, 2023, 10:57 AM | Updated: 11:04 am

Seattle Mariners Mike Ford...

Mike Ford of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his two run home run on June 13, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners entered this season with a clear plan at designated hitter.

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Rather than utilize an everyday option at that spot like they used to with Nelson Cruz or Edgar Martinez or even Carlos Santana last year, the Mariners opted to use the DH spot as a way to cycle players through the lineup, play matchup ball and give players a partial day off.

So far, not so good for the Mariners, who are dead-last in MLB in OPS from the DH spot this season.

But over the last two weeks, they’ve got better production from that spot thanks to a recent minor-league callup. That player? Big first baseman/DH Mike Ford, who had 56 RBIs in 49 games for Triple-A Tacoma this year before his promotion.

In nine games for the Mariners, Ford is slashing .250/.308/.750 (1.058 OPS) with four home runs, including a two-homer game on Tuesday.

“Fordo, I heard someone downstairs in the clubhouse drop this I think it was yesterday: ‘Hey, we’re all good, we’ve got George Herman Ford,”‘ Seattle Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said to Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Thursday. For those who don’t know, the joke there is that Babe Ruth’s real name was George Herman Ruth.

It’s highly unlikely the 30-year-old Ford is the next coming of The Great Bambino, but it looks like he may be solidfying the lineup by hitting well out of that DH spot. This is technically Ford’s fourth stint with the Mariners organization, as he was with M’s twice last year and once way back in spring training of 2018 when they selected him in the Rule 5 Draft.

“From the time he signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent, he has been an awesome minor league offensive player,” Dipoto said. “His combination of swing decisions, on-base, power at the minor league levels, it’s what drove us to picking him in the Rule 5 Draft back when we did (in 2018). It is what has attracted us to bringing him back to the organization so many times. And he has had pockets like we’re seeing right now.”

Ford’s best run of success at the MLB level came in 2019 with the Yankees when he had an OPS of .909 in 50 games. After that, he was less effective against MLB pitching and bounced between the big leagues and minors for a number of clubs, including Seattle.

“I think if I’m being honest, this is the first time in his run as a Mariner that he’s gotten meaningful or consistent playing time instead of just being occasionally dropped in as a DH or a pinch hitter,” Dipoto said. “So hopefully we’re seeing Mike Ford adjust to the major leagues the way he’s always hit in the minor leagues. Because this is one of the most selective, calm, powerful minor league hitters that has played in the last decade, really. I’d love to see some of it translate like it’s translated this week, and it would be a huge boost for us if he continues to do the things he’s doing right now.”

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