BROCK AND SALK

Goldsmith: ‘How do you get Julio free again?’

Jul 1, 2024, 12:40 PM

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodríguez Twins 2024 broken bat...

Julio Rodríguez of the Seattle Mariners holds the end of his broken bat against the Twins on Saturday. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

As the perplexing struggles continue for Julio Rodríguez, the Seattle Mariners’ star outfielder brought in some extra help this past weekend.

Mariners Breakdown: Storylines after fourth straight series loss

Mariners insider Shannon Drayer reported that Rodríguez was working with personal hitting coach Osvaldo Diaz during the off day last Thursday and again during batting practice on Friday.

The hope is that Diaz can help Rodríguez rediscover the success that made him one of baseball’s brightest young stars over the past two seasons, when he burst onto the scene to hit a combined .279/.338/.495 with 60 home runs and a .834 OPS.

It’s been a far cry from that this season. The 23-year-old slugger is batting .247/.297/.327 with just seven homers, six doubles and a .625 OPS – including a 5-for-45 slump over his past 11 games. His OPS ranks No. 67 of 73 qualified hitters in the AL, after ranking 14th out of 130 qualified hitters in 2022 and 34th out of 134 last season.

During an appearance Monday on Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith shared his thoughts on Rodríguez’s struggles.

“I think this is a situation where you’re just trying to do anything you can, right?” Goldsmith said. “… It has been, in many ways, a lost first half for Julio. Like, that’s just where we are right now. And maybe the All-Star break is exactly what he needs. I wonder how much with Julio is just he’s a microcosm of the bigger picture – and that is, how do we simplify things to the purest form and how do we let Julio feel like a Little Leaguer again? How do we let Julio walk up to the batter’s box feeling free?”

Goldsmith pointed to a moment earlier this season that, in his view, illustrates how spectacular Rodríguez can be when he lets his talent and athleticism take over. It was when Rodríguez homered on a 102.5 mph fastball from Oakland Athletics star closer Mason Miller on June 5, which at the time was the third-fastest pitch to be taken deep since Statcast’s pitch tracking began back in 2008. The homer came on a 3-2 count in an at-bat that began with two sliders and then five consecutive fastballs.

“You can count on one hand how many guys on the planet could do that, and Julio’s one of them,” Goldsmith said. “When I watched that at-bat play out, Mason Miller was coming right at Julio with nothing but fastballs. Mason Miller has a slider, but I think everybody in the ballpark that night got a sense of it (being) mano y mano right here. It is Mason Miller versus Julio Rodríguez, power on power. Mason Miller is just staring down the barrel to Julio and saying you cannot touch my fastball.

“So, what was Julio doing? He wasn’t processing, ‘I’ve gotta watch out for the slider off (the plate).’ No, it was like, ‘He’s coming at me with 100-plus every time. Gear up for the fastball.’ … When Julio’s free mentally, those things can happen. And I think that’s (why the question is) how do you get Julio free again? I don’t know, but hopefully somebody can figure it out.”

Listen to the full conversation with Aaron Goldsmith at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• MLB insider reports on Seattle Mariners’ trade pursuits
• Rowland-Smith: What stands out about Mariners pitchers’ recent hiccups
• Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez putting in extra work to solve struggles
• Seattle Mariners Injury Update: Latest on Bryan Woo, Gabe Speier and more
• Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos to begin rehab assignment

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Goldsmith: ‘How do you get Julio free again?’