SHANNON DRAYER

The interesting story behind big series by Mariners’ Dominic Canzone

Apr 12, 2024, 5:24 PM

Seattle Mariners Dominic Canzone...

Dominic Canzone of the Seattle Mariners rounds the bases after a home run on April 1, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

As the Seattle Mariners’ season got underway, one of the odd numbers that that presented itself early with they offense’s struggles was the 47.1% strikeout rate Dominic Canzone posted in their first two series.

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It was a bright spot of sorts I pointed to in that it was nowhere near the 17% rate Canzone recorded last year, meaning regression to something better was likely. Canzone, however, was adjusting to offseason changes made with his body, swing, and ultimately approach as the Mariners saw there were better pitches he could hit.

The transition of taking changes from the offseason to spring training to the regular season is rarely flawless. Adjustments with Canzone, who drew the praises of manager Scott Servais all spring, had to be made once the games counted. On Friday, Servais again singled out Canzone for the progress he has made, going 5 for 13 with two home runs and a double in his last five games while walking and striking out three times each.

“Dom had a really good road trip,” Servais said. “He was off to a super tough start and swinging at all the wrong pitches and not getting the results he was looking for. And he made a conscious decision, he was going to get better at tunneling pitches, and he has done it.”

Canzone described the process of tunneling as a hitter as determining what a pitch is going to look like and where you want it to start. It is different for every pitcher, and it’s a new way of seeing pitches for Canzone. The end goal: making good swing decisions. While he understood the concept, the execution in games that counted was rocky. How the Mariners reinforced the concept with Canzone, however, was unique.

“I think you have to be able to relate to players differently in your messaging,” Servais explained. “Dom loves to play cards. When you’re playing cards, you’re playing the odds and you do a lot of the same things when you’re hitting. What are the odds I’m going to get this pitcher? Where’s it going to go? And then also understanding that if you’re playing cards or poker, just because you lose a hand doesn’t mean you bet all your money on the next hand, you play all hands equal. And I think just talking to him and now and in that language is something he really resonates towards, and our hitting coach has done a great job of getting him to understand because that’s something he likes to do when he’s not playing baseball.”

In the first week of the season, the wild swing you might have seen Canzone take after getting fooled on the previous pitch perhaps was a bad card move.

“He was doubling down and he didn’t have the hand to do it with, in his terms. He understands that and he is doing a better job with it,” Servais said.

With the Cubs throwing lefty starters Friday and Saturday, the lefty-hitting Canzone’s opportunities the next two days might be limited to pinch-hitting opportunities, but his stock remains high with Servais.

“That’s another guy I can’t wait to get back in there as he continues to grow and produce and get better,” Servais said.

Hear Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais’ full comments on Dominic Canzone at this link or in the player below.

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The interesting story behind big series by Mariners’ Dominic Canzone