Mariners notebook: Dylan Moore’s defense, Polanco’s hitting

May 1, 2024, 1:21 PM | Updated: 7:44 pm

Seattle Mariners Dylan Moore Braves 2024...

Dylan Moore of the Seattle Mariners throws out a runner at first against Atlanta on April 30. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Dylan Moore has been a valuable utility player for the Seattle Mariners since breaking into the major leagues six years ago.

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The 31 year old once again made a major impact Tuesday night when he made one of the defensive plays of the young season for Seattle.

With the Mariners in a bases-loaded, two-out jam and clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, Atlanta’s Orlando Arcia hit a soft grounder to Moore at shortstop. Moore charged the ball, scooped it and fired an off-balanced throw for the inning-ending out at first, which ultimately helped preserve a 3-2 win for Seattle.

“His ability to play at such a high level all over the field is a huge competitive advantage for us,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Atlanta. “And certainly for a manager, you love those guys. You can put them wherever you want to put them. You’re gonna get great effort. He’s super athletic. He can run the bases. He just checks a lot of boxes that help you win games.”

It certainly wasn’t the first time Moore showed off his glove this season.

While playing second base against Colorado on April 21, Moore saved a run with a leaping grab and diving stop on back-to-back plays. On Monday night, he made a diving stop at shortstop and threw out Arcia at first. And on Wednesday, he made a full-extension diving catch at shortstop on a 101.5 mph line drive off the bat of Matt Olson.

Moore has already played five different positions this season, logging time at all four infield spots and left field. He’s had a slow start at the plate, batting just .193, but he had a key hit in Tuesday’s win, connecting for an RBI double in the fourth inning that proved to be the difference.

Servais said it takes a certain mentality to be a player like Moore who can start, come off the bench or fill in at a moment’s notice.

“You have to have the right mindset, and D-Mo does every day,” Servais said. “Like, even when we’re fully healthy and he’s maybe not in the starting lineup, stuff can happen. A guy tweaks something with his back in the cage and you can go to D-Mo and say, ‘Hey man, you’re in there,’ and there’s no panic. There’s no stress like, ‘Oh my god.’ He’s like, ‘Got it. I got it. What glove do I need?’ And he goes out and does his thing.

“I joke with him, he’ll never catch,” Servais said with a laugh. “And we put him on the mound one time, and I’ll never do that again. But anywhere else out there, I feel really good about where he’s at.”

Is Polanco starting to turn the corner?

It’s been a rough start to Jorge Polanco’s tenure with the Mariners. The former longtime Minnesota Twins second baseman is batting just .170 with four homers in 30 games, and he’s striking out at a 30.6% rate.

However, Polanco had a big series at the plate against Atlanta. On Monday night, he had a leadoff single in the bottom of the ninth to set the stage for Mitch Garver’s walkoff homer. On Tuesday night, he pulled a two-run blast over the right-field fence. On Wednesday, he drove in both of Seattle’s runs on a pair of RBI singles. And despite his overall struggles at the plate, the 30-year-old switch-hitter ranks fourth in MLB with a 16.5% walk rate.

“I think for Polo, the track record is there,” Servais said prior to Wednesday’s game. “He’s gonna hit. He’s doing a really good job taking his walks. … The strikeouts are a little bit more than what he’s used to dealing with, (but) he is squaring balls up. Unfortunately, a lot of balls he’s squared up, the best have been hooked foul. I was excited last night – he got a changeup in the middle of the plate and he kept it fair.”

The Mariners ultimately hope Polanco can be their answer at second base, which has seen a revolving door of limited offensive production ever since they traded away Robinson Canó following the 2018 season. Polanco hit .269/.335/.446 with 112 homers over 10 seasons with Minnesota, including a career-high 33 homers in 2021.

“This guy played with one organization for 10 years,” Servais said. “It takes a while. … When it’s the first time you’ve ever (joined a new team), there’s going to be an adjustment period.

“I liked him from afar,” Servais added. “He was a guy that we wanted to acquire for a couple years. The fact that we did, I’m really happy we got him. He’s going to be a major player for us here down the stretch.”

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Blowers on Mariners’ recent pitching run: ‘Never seen anything like it’
• Walk-off HR a ‘huge relief’ for Mariners DH Mitch Garver
• AL West Check-In: Angels star Mike Trout to have knee surgery
• How Mariners could keep Emerson Hancock when Bryan Woo returns
• Drayer: Why Seattle Mariners are sending Jonatan Clase back to Triple-A

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Mariners notebook: Dylan Moore’s defense, Polanco’s hitting