Ahead of facing Seattle Mariners, Jarred Kelenic says he’s learned from past struggles

Apr 29, 2024, 5:51 PM

SEATTLE (AP) — Jarred Kelenic walked into the visitors’ dugout with a smile on his face, ready to talk about his departure from the Seattle Mariners and how he’s finding comfort with his new situation in Atlanta.

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“It feels like just yesterday I was sitting over there crying in front of you guys and talking about when I broke my foot. I feel like ever since then I’ve grown so much just as a person and as a player — really for the better,” Kelenic said Monday as the Braves opened a three-game series against the Mariners.

Kelenic was once deemed a future cornerstone for the Mariners, but could never match the expectations placed on him early in his career. He struggled at the plate, struggled dealing with failure and had a memorable emotional outburst last season that resulted in breaking his foot when he kicked a water cooler.

In 252 games with Seattle, Kelenic hit .204 with 32 homers and 109 RBIs. He was a standout defender, mostly in left field, but his struggles at the plate dominated the narrative about his stint with the Mariners.

The offseason saw Kelenic get traded to the Braves in a package that included pitcher Marco Gonzales as the Mariners sought to shed salary. It was a disappointing conclusion to his time in Seattle but also a fresh start.

“I tried to look at it as a new beginning and a new opportunity — no different than when I first got called up here,” he said.

Kelenic was in the starting lineup, playing left field and batting ninth in his return to Seattle. He entered the series having appeared in 21 of 26 games for Atlanta, getting almost all his playing time against right-handed pitchers, and was batting .305 while hitting mostly at the bottom of the order.

It’s a little different and less pressure than his time in Seattle, for which he was often in the middle of the lineup.

“My mentality when I’m in the box is just trying to get on base, especially hitting ninth (and) you’ve got (Ronald Acuna Jr.) hitting behind me,” Kelenic said.

While returning to Seattle brought up reminders, Kelenic said he’s not dwelling on the struggles he endured during his time with the Mariners.

“For me, I feel like a lot of the negative things that happened, I really learned from and they turned out to be really positive things in my life,” Kelenic said. “So I wouldn’t say that there’s anything that I regret. There’s things I would do different, obviously, looking back on it.”

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