Is the Mariners’ defense going to be a big concern this year?

Mar 29, 2024, 12:01 PM | Updated: 12:06 pm

Seattle Mariners defense Luis Urías...

Seattle Mariners third baseman Luis Urías throws to first on March 28, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

If you watched the Seattle Mariners’ opening day loss to the Boston Red Sox, you may be surprised about one thing from the box score.

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

The M’s had a little trouble in the field throughout the 6-4 defeat, but in the end, they only had one error. It felt like more, though. And in fact, the one play that was ruled an error may have have been the least egregious of Seattle’s defensive miscues.

Third baseman Josh Rojas was charged with the one error when his running throw home hit the back of Boston runner Tyler O’Neill’s helmet, allowing the Red Sox to score their third run of the game. Looming just as large in a close game, though, was the run Boston eventually scored after shortstop J.P. Crawford bobbled a ball and could only get one out instead of a double play in the fifth inning, and a triple in the sixth by Ceddane Rafaela, who picked up an extra base while Mariners left fielder Dominic Canzone was fielding the ball and would later score.

One more play stood out, though it didn’t end up costing Seattle a run. New Mariners third baseman Luis Urías, who took over during the game as a substitution for Rojas, had a moment of indecision after fielding a grounder in the ninth as Jarren Duran (running from second base) neared him, and his throw was just a bit later to Ty France than Boston’s Trevor Story was to first base. Urías’ fielding was a question mark already going into the season, particularly his throwing, and defense in general appears to be an area where the M’s took a step back based on their offseason moves.

How much of a concern is it? Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk talked with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer about that on Friday’s edition of Brock and Salk.

Drayer called it something you don’t want to see on opening day – your concerns playing out – but that doesn’t mean the defense as a whole is something to panic about quite yet.

“The thing about that is that I do think that things are fixable,” Drayer said. “You’re not going to see a J.P. Crawford bobble very often, and that’s not what you were concerned about. You were concerned about the outfield and you were concerned about third base. The Rojas ball hitting the runner – he didn’t have the (throwing) lane, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to do there. But Urías failing to get the out in the ninth inning, that hurt. The good news there is that wasn’t a physical error, that was a mental error right there, and so you hope that maybe that’s jitters, trying to impress, trying to be there in the big moment in his first attempt. And I’m sure he’s heard the questions about (his defense), too. You hope a little bit of work and a little bit of attention on that will help there.”

That covers the infield. How about the play that jumped out in the outfield?

“Canzone not getting to the ball very quickly, not getting much on the throw – we’ve seen him make better throws,” Drayer said. “I think what I saw in spring training (with Canzone’s defense) really kind of reassured things. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a plus outfielder, but I don’t think he’s going to be what he was last year. You’re hoping that he’s going to be OK (defensively), but to see those things happen in that game, that was kind of tough.”

Top 10: Who are the best baseball movie actors of all-time?

Salk pointed out how the defense might be a departure from what fans have gotten used to seeing in recent seasons at T-Mobile Park.

“I do think it’s going to be something that we’re watching for this year,” Salk said, “and it’s not something we’ve had to watch for for quite some time because for the most part their defense has been really special over the course of the last three to five years.”

The Mariners’ defense has played a key role in strong pitching numbers by Seattle, too, which is a big reason it will be a storyline in 2024.

“That contributes to the pitching and that contributes to the wins,” Drayer said of the Mariners’ defense. “It’s extremely important, and if you didn’t know it before, you see a game like that and you see how it can impact things. And it’s important right now, especially when you’re down your two top relievers (Matt Brash and Gregory Santos), you don’t want to be giving anything extra away. You don’t want to make it any tougher on anybody. I think we’re going to see them score runs. I don’t think we’re going to see as many one-run games, but you’ve got to play clean baseball and last night’s game was not clean.”

Listen to the full Brock and Salk conversation with Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports in the third segment of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

Welcome Back: Mitch Haniger blasts homer in Mariners return
After throwing out first pitch, Nelson Cruz retires as a Mariner
Mariners Notebook: ‘Consistent pressure’ theme for lineup in 2024
Seattle Mariners announce opening day 26-man roster
Seattle Mariners’ young core, now veterans, fueled by last year’s letdown

Brock and Salk podcast

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Mostly Cloudy
High 72° | Low 54°
Roof is open
Angels at Mariners today at 6:40pm

Brock and Salk


Seattle Sports Video

Video: Top 25 Most Intriguing Seattle Seahawks (#15): S Julian Love

The Brock & Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM continues their annual Top 25 Most Intriguing Seahawks list heading into the 2024 season. Coming in at #15, safety Julian Love. Love was a Pro Bowler last year, but how will he fit in Mike Macdonald’s new defense? For more Seahawks coverage from, visit: […]

5 hours ago

Seattle Mariners France Ty Jorge Polanco...

Brent Stecker

What’s next for Mariners after surprising Ty France news?

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer of Seattle Sports talked about the team's decision to place first baseman Ty France on waivers Monday with Brock and Salk.

6 hours ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: Most Intriguing #Seahawks #16: LT Charles Cross

Is LT Charles Cross an elite left tackle? Salk seems to think he’s at a crossroads considering the high draft investment. #SeattleSports

3 days ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: Top 25 Most Intriguing Seattle Seahawks (#16): LT Charles Cross

The Brock & Salk Show on Seattle Sports 710 AM continues their annual Top 25 Most Intriguing Seahawks list heading into the 2024 season. Coming in at #16, left tackle Charles Cross. After being drafted with a top 10 pick two seasons ago, is Cross truly on his way to becoming an elite left tackle? […]

3 days ago


Seattle Sports Video

Video: Which bats should the Seattle Mariners pursue in the trade market?

ESPN’s Jeff Passan joined The Brock & Salk Show to analyze Salk’s list of potential bats the Seattle Mariners should pursue in the trade market. Passan listed one player who ‘is the right fit’ for the Mariners between Brent Rooker, Yandy Diaz, Isaac Paredes, Lamont Wade, Johnathan India, Jazz Chisholm, and Charlie Blackmon. Listen to […]

3 days ago

Seattle Mariners trade deadline Isaac Paredes Andrés Muñoz Logan Gilbert...

Brent Stecker

ESPN’s Passan: One hitter makes most sense for a Mariners trade

The MLB trade deadline market may be squished, but the Seattle Mariners may still be able to make a run at Tampa Bay slugger Isaac Paredes, says ESPN's Jeff Passan.

3 days ago

Is the Mariners’ defense going to be a big concern this year?