BROCK AND SALK

Raleigh: Mariners hitters ‘want to start pulling our end of the bargain’

Feb 28, 2024, 1:51 PM

The Seattle Mariners will have a new look this year, particularly when it comes to the lineup.

MLB is ‘going to try to address’ uniforms, says Seattle Mariners catcher

When opening day rolls around, the M’s are expected to have four to five bats in the lineup that weren’t with the team on opening day of last season.

One player who is back, however, and will have a big role in the Mariners’ season this year is Cal Raleigh, who led all MLB catchers in home runs for the second season in a row with 30 in 2023.

“It’s a lot of new players, lot of new faces, a lot of new people to get acclimated,” Raleigh told Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk on Wednesday. “But we knew we had to make a change.”

The Mariners are expected to be contenders in the American League largely because of the team’s pitching staff, which has been one of the best in baseball the last few years.

Servais: Seattle Mariners’ ‘high expectations’ in large part due to pitching

But Raleigh, who homered just hours later in Wednesday’s Cactus League game against Kansas City, wants the team’s hitters to do well enough that they’re a key part of the conversation, too.

“Personally, guys are tired of hearing our pitching staff is so great, they’re carrying us. And by all means, they are and they are great and they did carry us the past two or three years,” Raleigh said. “But we want to start pulling our end of the bargain. We want to start helping them out and make some games easier for them and maybe take a few less innings off a guy, maybe keep (them) a little more fresher later in the season.”

The Mariners have started slow each of the last three years before catching fire later in the season. A big part of that has been the hitters’ early struggles, and Raleigh wants to see the Mariners get more wins in April and May.

“Maybe not have that pressure come August or September of like, ‘Alright, every game is do or die, we need to win this game.’ We want to build that kind of process early on to where alright, we’re winning games early, we’re winning into the middle of season. Now we don’t feel like we have that huge weight bearing on our shoulders at the end of the season or feel like that we need to lean on a certain guy or certain group as far as the pitchers,” he said. “We want to be able to pull our own weight.”

A big part of the M’s story this season will be how the hitters adjust after an up-and-down 2023 season.

The Mariners were 12th in runs scored and 11th in home runs in 2023, but they had the second-most strikeouts in MLB in 2023. Seattle was able to put runners on base and in scoring position, but strikeouts regularly killed rallies. Since the end of the season, the M’s have added players who put the ball in play more, such as Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver, while parting ways with Eugenio Suárez and Teoscar Hernández, both of whom had over 200 strikeouts in 2023.

The Mariners also hired former Miami Marlins hitting coach Brant Brown as both bench coach and offensive coordinator, and Raleigh has already spoken about how he thinks Brown’s presence will help Seattle’s lineup. Raleigh reiterated that Wednesday.

“Credit to the front office and our coaching staff as well for recognizing (we needed to make changes) and going out and doing those things. And not only on the player side – obviously we’ve got some great players and made some new additions and people with new skill sets, new things that they can do well to kind of help us out – but adding a Brant Brown to our staff to help us, and maybe that’s something that we needed,” Raleigh said.

Raleigh called the addition of Brown “huge” for Mariners hitters, and that “everybody in that clubhouse” believes in him.

“As far as the things that he’s bringing to the table, the things he’s talking about, it’s firing us up and it’s an exciting new kind of thing that’s come up. It’s like a fresh new start and you’re kind of like, ‘Oh, I kind of like this, I like these new new things that we’re talking about,'” Raleigh said.

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with Cal Raleigh at this link or in the podcast near the top of this post, or watch the sitdown interview in the video player at the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mariners’ Logan Gilbert details how his pitches could look different in ’24
• Mariners infield defense under guru Perry Hill all starts at a wall
• What Scott Servais said about four key Mariners hitters
• Watch: New DH Mitch Garver crushes 1st homer with Mariners
• Do the Mariners need Matt Chapman to shore up third base?
• Haniger, who never wanted to leave Mariners, happy to return

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