SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners Notebook: No concern over two key bats’ slow starts

Mar 9, 2024, 2:05 PM

Seattle Mariners J.P. Crawford Ty France...

J.P. Crawford celebrates with Ty France after hitting home run on July 6, 2023. (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

(Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Spring training numbers are spring training numbers and while the numbers are recorded and sometimes put forth on “Top Ten” lists, they still mean very little. If you are nervous that a player has an average that starts with a 1 or less, or hadn’t recorded a hit 15 games in, hold that worry for the regular season. What happens in Arizona or Florida this time of the year is simply not representative of what a player is or will be at the plate. Case in point, Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, who picked up his first two hits of the spring in Saturday’s game against the Brewers, appeared to be right on his personal spring training tract, with an 0-for-9 line 15 games in. Is his manager worried? Not at all.

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“J.P. Crawford is not great spring training guy,” said Scott Servais. “I think that’s been proven. The guys are here working on things. J.P.’s always putting in the time, the effort to work in trying to make adjustments. Trust me, J.P.’s going to get a few hits for us. I feel very confident about that.”

Last spring, it took time for Crawford to transfer the offseason work he did at Driveline onto the field and into games. There came a point where he had to make adjustments, which is part of the the process. Things did not start to click for him at the plate until the end of spring training. Servais has seen something similar with Ty France this spring.

“Same thing,” he said. “I think people do the offseason work, maybe at different facilities, work with different people and their end goal may be great in the batting cage and you get out in the field with live pitching and it’s ‘Whoa, wait a second. This is a little bit different than I thought.’ So you have to continue to make those adjustments. I think that’s what Ty is going through now.”

It is a bit of a necessary ‘one step back before moving forward’ situation. The key is to stay committed to the changes the hitter is trying to make, and Servais likes what he has seen in the work put in by France.

“Ty is making adjustments,” he said. “I’ve seen him do some things in the last couple of games that I’ve never seen him do before. Just in his set up at the plate, I think his thought process is different as well. I think (Mariners offensive coordinator) Brant Brown had a lot to do with that in a constant back and forth that’s going on in the dugout leading up to each at-bat. The back and forth there is really unique and different than what guys have thought about. I think Ty’s in a good spot.”

 Seattle Mariners Notes

• Bullpen battle update…Tyson Miller and Cody Bolton received good marks from Servais for their work Friday in Mesa against the Cubs.

“I really liked what I saw out of Miller.” he said. “He has a lot of release point characteristics, pitch characteristics that Paul Sewald had as far as how he does it.”

Miller has four pitches, but it is the ride on the fastball and sweep on the slider the Mariners like. And like Sewald, they have asked him to simplify to his two best pitches. So far the results have been good, leaving him as an intriguing option for the bullpen as he can throw more than one inning. As for Bolton, he could possibly fit into the “pivot” role in the Mariners’ bullpen as a reliever that can come in at any point of the game before the leverage arms and get critical outs.

“He’s got all the pitches,” Servais of Bolton. “A really good sinker, hard cutter, a good curveball. The key for him will be can he control the strike zone? But I like what we have seen so far.”

•  Add Sam Haggerty to the dings and dents report. Haggerty has not played since Wednesday due to arm soreness. He is expected to return to games in the next day or two.

• Roster moves: Michael Chavis, Isiah Gilliam and Nick Solak have been re-assigned to minor league camp. Blake Hunt has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

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