BROCK AND SALK

Why it may ‘take a little time’ for Mariners to change at the plate

Apr 4, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:03 pm

Seattle Mariners Jorge Polanco...

Jorge Polanco of the Seattle Mariners on March 28, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

It’s been a tough start of the 2024 season for the Seattle Mariners when it comes to their hitting.

Seattle Mariners struggle with new and similar problems in opening homestand

Through seven games, Seattle is hitting under .200 as a team batting average and its collective .550 OPS is dead-last in MLB. The Mariners are also still striking out at a high rate, averaging over 10 K’s per game. That comes after severe strikeout problems last season, which the Mariners aimed to decrease this offseason.

During a wide-ranging conversation Thursday with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith dove into the team’s offensive woes to start the year, and why patience may be the answer there.

“The Mariners were very aware of the offensive struggles of last year,” Goldsmith said. “I think we can cite many examples of their awareness of that, and one of them was bringing in Brant Brown.”

Brown is the M’s new offensive coordinator and bench coach. Some players and coaches have cited the addition of Brown as a big one for the team in 2024 as Seattle aims to change its strikeout-heavy ways.

Brown comes to the Mariners after serving as Miami Marlins hitting coach in 2023 and an assistant hitting coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2018-22.

At least so far, it doesn’t appear that Brown’s messaging has gotten through to the Mariners’ hitters. But that may ultimately take some time, Goldsmith said.

“I don’t think we know exactly how his role is going to be imparted on a daily basis preparing for the opponent. I don’t think that’s the Mariners trying to hide something behind a cloak, I just think it’s they’re getting this thing off the ground, right?” Goldsmith said. “And they’re figuring out his role on a day-to-day basis of how to attack the opposing starting pitcher. I mean, that is such a major part of what Brant Brown does, and I think this is going to maybe take a little time to get some traction.”

So should the Mariners change their plan of attack at the plate when they begin their next series Friday in Milwaukee? Goldsmith doesn’t think so.

“I think you keep banging the same message because right now, my sense is that there are maybe three, maybe four, or maybe some days two guys who are taking that plan of action and implementing it. And it can’t be two doing it and seven not. It needs to be the vast majority, if not hopefully all nine,” he said. “I think that’s something that’s probably (needing) some traction. But no, I wouldn’t change a thing in terms of process after seven games.”

A big part of the Mariners’ philosophy is controlling or dominating the zone. That’s still a core message, Goldsmith said, and at the plate, that means focusing on better swing decisions.

To help with that, the Mariners are trying something new with their pregame footage.

“One of the things that is clearly a point of emphasis this year is what they call the ‘green box’ in the clubhouse. Before every game, there’s video on loop of the opposing starting pitcher both pitching to righties and then to lefties, and there’s a green box overlaid over the strike zone,” Goldsmith said. “And where that green box is is where that pitcher gives up the majority of his hits to either righties or lefties. So one of the messages is ‘hunt the green box.'”

“If you’re a right-handed hitter and you know that today’s opposing starting pitcher gives up the majority of his hits up and in to right-handed hitters and that’s the strength of yours, hunt the green box,” Goldsmith added. ” … If you’re a right-handed hitter and you chase a pitch up out of the strike zone up and in, at least you were aggressive in attacking a pitch that you know that’s where he gives up his hits. The problem is if on the preceding pitch you chase low and away, and then the next pitch you chase up and in. You can’t be chasing them all over the strike zone and always (being) a step behind. Know your strength, know his weakness. Hopefully the Venn diagram overlaps a little bit there, and chase that green box.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full conversation with the Mariners’ Aaron Goldsmith at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Salk: Do Mariners need a different reaction to another slow start?
• Why a World Series winner is so bullish on Mariners this season
• Mariners adding depth with former Cy Young from division rival
• Seattle Mariners’ problem versus spin unlikely to go away soon

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