Mariners notebook: Young players getting more work in September
With the calendar flipped to September and the rosters expanded, batting practice now starts a little earlier and there are more early workouts being done on the field before games. More players with the Mariners means more work to get through, and it was interesting to watch some of it this week.
On Monday, a group that included Ketel Marte, Leonys Martin, Shawn O’Malley, Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel took early bunting practice. The next day the same group took early batting practice on the field with hitting coach Edgar Martinez pitching to them. If you use your imagination a little bit, you could see how this young, speedy group could perhaps help turn the Mariners lineup into a different-looking offense next year. First thing is first, however – they have got to get on base.
“Plenty of guys have things to work on. You can’t stop teaching, coaching, working with guys,” manager Scott Servais said. “I think there is a lot to be gained in September no matter where you are in the (postseason) race.”
The work is more about the continued development of the younger players, like with Martin, who was in the group to concentrate on his bunting. Next year’s lineup will sort itself out in the offseason but for now Servais and the coaches will make the most of the time they have remaining with these players this season.
“These players are part of our future here,” he said. “We are going to need them to get to where we ultimately want to go and that is to win a championship here. It’s not just to finish .500. It’s to get farther than that.”
• Robinson Cano was back in the lineup Wednesday night after exiting Tuesday night’s game early with a bruised foot. Before the game I asked how he was feeling, and he answered, “Oh, you know me.” Well, yes, which tells me nothing about how the foot feels. Cano spent half a season last year not showing that he had a double sports hernia so I took that as the foot hurts and he will be out there. Sure enough, he appeared to be running cautiously in Game 3 against the Rangers.
• The Jackson Generals had a spectacular Game 1 of their Southern League playoffs. Andrew Moore threw nine innings of one-hit ball – the one hit being on a bunt – with no walks and eight strikeouts, while Tyler O’Neill hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the 10th to win it. The final score was 3-0.
• More minors news: the Mariners have extended their player development contract with the Everett AquaSox through the 2020 season.