SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners notebook: Leonys Martin arrives, ‘ready to play 180 games’

Feb 22, 2017, 1:38 PM | Updated: 2:39 pm
With multiple contenders looking for outfield help, there's a decent chance Leonys Martin will be c...
With multiple contenders looking for outfield help, there's a decent chance Leonys Martin will be claimed off waivers. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Leonys Martin finally arrived in the Mariners clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex on Wednesday morning, just minutes before it closed for meetings. It was a scurry of activity – Martin looked for his locker and familiar faces, greeted media in the room warmly with handshakes for all then said he would talk after practice.

It has been a whirlwind week for Martin, a Cuban exile who testified Tuesday in Miami in the federal trial of two international agents charged with conspiracy and alien smuggling. The trial forced Martin to revisit the harrowing time following his escape from his home country, memories that he would like to put behind him.

“It is something that happened in the past. I just throw it away and focus on baseball right now,” he said. “There has been a little bit of stress. It was a tough process for me and my family. I hope it is over soon.”

Drayer: Daniel Vogelbach hopes offseason work helps defense at first base

A topic he preferred to talk about, though, was his offseason work. Martin said he lost 10 pounds in hopes that it would help keep his legs healthy and keep him on the field.

“I am ready to play 170, 180 games this year,” he said.

Confidence in what he sees around him has Martin thinking about a possible trip to the postseason.

“We have got to put everybody together in the same way, and find a way to make it this year,” he said. “We have got a great team again, a great opportunity, and that is the goal.”

Manager Scott Servais is interested to see what part Martin’s offense will play in that equation.

“You talk about some of the big hits he got and home runs (last season). He can certainly can hit velocity. He probably hits it as good as anybody we have got,” Servais said. “We certainly saw more power from him than we anticipated last year. We don’t know if that is going to be in there – was it a one-year deal? – but he is in good spirits, he’s in good shape.”

While Martin enjoyed nearly doubling his career high home run total, hitting 15 home runs last year, he was more concerned about other areas of his offense.

“I want to get better,” he said. “It was good that I hit 15 homers, but that’s not part of my game. I have to know what kind of player I am, stay on my game. Get my on-base percentage higher, try to steal 30, 40 bases. Get on base try to create rallies and score runs. I don’t go to the box trying to think of hitting homers. I try to create situations for the big boys coming behind me.”

To that end, he traveled to the Dominican Republic to work with Robinson Cano this offseason. The focus of his work was to shorten his swing, try not to be overly aggressive and to better control the strike zone.

“I am still learning about hitting. It’s coming, it’s a process. I feel in shape, my swing feels a little different. I am so happy with the work.”

As for having new speed guys on either side of him in the outfield?

“That’s good,” he said. “Now when you hit the ball in the air at Safeco Field, you have got to get it over. It’s a little different.

“It’s not about the outfield speed, it’s about the 25 men,” he continued. “It’s about the coaching staff. Everybody on the same page. I think we have a great chance to make it this year.”

Notes

• Steve Cishek checked out after Tuesday’s throwing session, his first since offseason surgery to repair a torn hip labrum. He is scheduled to play catch again Thursday.

• Felix Hernandez threw a 25-pitch live batting practice to Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager on Wednesday morning. Felix threw all of his pitches and was pleased with what he saw. He was not pleased, however, that Cano, Cruz and Seager did not take swings, which is not out of the ordinary for veterans in live BP. Felix is scheduled to start the Mariners’ Cactus League game against the White Sox Feb. 28. He most likely will throw two innings in that game.

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