Morosi: What Mariners OF Kelenic’s injury situation illustrates

Jul 22, 2023, 1:16 PM | Updated: 3:18 pm

Seattle Mariners Jarred Kelenic...

Jarred Kelenic of the Seattle Mariners reacts against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 30, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners were dealt a blow this week with outfielder Jarred Kelenic landing on the 10-day injured list with a foot fracture.

Kelenic, a former top prospect who had struggled in his first two MLB seasons, had a hot start to 2023 and became a regular in the Mariners’ lineup.

But during a Wednesday loss to the Minnesota Twins, Kelenic kicked a water cooler after a ninth-inning strikeout, thus breaking a bone in his foot.

A teary Kelenic spoke to media members the next day, apologizing for the situation and stressing repeatedly that he let down his Seattle Mariners teammates due to his actions.

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On Friday, MLB Network reporter Jon Morosi shared his take on Kelenic and his injury during his weekly visit with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“First of all, he knows that that can’t happen,” Morosi said. “Those were basically his exact words: ‘What happened can’t happen,’ and no one in the world feels worse about it than he does.”

Morosi brought up a quote from legendary University of Minnesota hockey coach Bob Motzsko to help evaluate what happened.

“Bob said of his players that he has at Minnesota, ‘I would much rather have to put out a fire than start one.’ Meaning if you start with someone who has an absolute burning fury inside of them to compete, that’s a good place to start as opposed to having to motivate someone who doesn’t have the spark,” Morosi said.

Kelenic has shown repeatedly he is a fiery competitor who wants to win and be great. That’s ultimately part of why his injury wound up happening.

“We can all see and agree that Kelenic has the spark. We know that he cares,” Morosi said. “And I think this is a further point to emphasize two things. (One is) how hard baseball is. Even when you’ve had objectively a good season –  which Jarred has had –  there are moments of great frustration. The second part is those who endure, those who have longevity, those who come here to the Hall of Fame are those who are able to manage the ups and downs. And I just think that’s part of Jarred’s game that he’ll eventually have to work on. Everybody handles their intensity in their own way, and there’s no one right way to handle things.”

Kelenic has been lauded for being more mature and handling failure better this year, but this situation, Morosi said, shows that the No. 1 thing Kelenic needs to work on is compartmentalizing the failure that comes with playing Major League Baseball.

“And I think he’s gotten a lot better at it this year. In the past, struggles would overwhelm him and affect the quality of his at-bats. By and large, that did not happen this year, and that, I think, is to be celebrated,” Morosi said. “I also think this week illustrates that he probably still has some more to learn. And that’s OK. He’s a young player. This is part of the maturation of a young player. But I think in the near-term, it’s just tough because we know how important these next 10 days are to prove where the Mariners are going in the long-term. And it just, it really stings when you look at your lineup and say, ‘Wow, I wish he was in it. And do we have to make a move to cover for him to just get back to level where we were before, and then try to upgrade from there?'”

The overall reception to Kelenic’s injury announcement and comments after the fact have been lauded by Mariners fans, and Morosi thinks that’s the right reaction.

“I think Mariners fans appreciate the fire and should absolutely give him forgiveness and grace and applause and support,” he said. “We can also say at the same time that darn it, it leaves the roster in a tough position. And I think that’s where the Mariners find themselves today.”

Ultimately, one word comes to mind with how the aftermath to the injury ultimately played out.

“The word on that for me is accountability … Accountability wears well,” Morosi said. “We all know that we make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. And I think that when you admit what happened, especially in that situation … the story has a little bit less oxygen when he just comes out and says, ‘I screwed up. My mistake. No one’s fault but mine. I feel terrible. This is what happened.’ There’s less drama.”

“If there’s a sin here, it’s caring too much,” Morosi later added. “We can all understand that and identify with that. And then you move on. Again, it probably pulls into greater focus just the importance and the ability and the necessity for really good players and really good teams to keep a steady tempo during the course of the season.”

Listen to the full conversation with Morosi at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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