Add Leonys Martin to the list of Mariners to get offseason hitting help from Robinson Cano
Leonys Martin can’t wait to start his second season in a Mariners uniform.
The gregarious center fielder was one of several Seattle players who were present for last weekend’s FanFest at Safeco Field, and if there’s one thing he made clear while talking to members of the media, it’s that he’s anxious to get back on the field.
Here’s some notes on what Martin had to say:
• Martin, who spends his offseasons in Miami, said he joined teammate Robinson Cano in the Dominican Republic for about 10 days and joked that he was there “learning how to hit.” The 28-year-old Martin hit a career-high 15 home runs in 2016, but his average dipped to .247, five points below his career clip. As far as what he’s worked on with his approach: “Tried to get a little bit of a short swing, try to be under control a little bit more at home plate.”
• When general manager Jerry Dipoto acquired Martin from Texas last season, it was the first part of a multiple-step process to improve Seattle’s range and overall defense in the outfield. Now that the Mariners have added Jarrod Dyson, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia into the mix, Martin won’t have to be relied upon to cover as much ground out of center as he did last year. “We’re gonna be alright. We got great speed in the outfield,” he said. “Last year we had a great outfield but it’s a little bit different when you got a speedy guy next to you. It’s a little bit easier to cover ground. It’s a huge ballpark. It’s gonna be fun.”
• The improved athleticism in the outfield could have a positive impact on the Mariners’ lineup, as the new additions should help get Seattle more runners on base – and even if not, they’ll at least be more likely to take an extra base when they do get on. Adding All-Star shortstop Jean Segura will also help in those regards. “I think it will be a little easier for the big boys to drive in RBIs,” Martin said. “I think we got a good team again. I think we got everything. We got power, we got speed, we got starting pitching, bullpen.”
• As a Cuban defector, Martin isn’t allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic for his home country. As has been the case since the first WBC tournament in 2006, Cuba’s team will not include any MLB players due to the fact that, to this point, all Cuban players to have played in the majors have had to defect to reach America. “I wish,” Martin said about the prospect of playing for Cuba. “Not gonna happen.”
• Martin was slowed by a hamstring injury last season, missing a stretch of games in late May and early June while on the disabled list. He was still able to appear in 143 games, the third time since 2013 that he played that many. He’s hoping to be out there for even more than the career-high 155 he played in 2014, though. “I’m preparing my body to play 162 games in the regular season. I’m ready. I’m ready, man.”