Notebook: Taylor Motter’s emergence gives Mariners extra time to rest Kyle Seager

Apr 25, 2017, 3:36 PM
The Mariners can afford to give Kyle Seager (hip) an extra day off due to Taylor Motter's versatili...
The Mariners can afford to give Kyle Seager (hip) an extra day off due to Taylor Motter's versatility. (AP)

Kyle Seager didn’t play in Sunday’s Mariners win with a sore hip, and he was again left out of the starting lineup for Tuesday’s series opener in Detroit. While on the surface that may seem like seem like a bad sign, it’s actually more an indication of the shape the team is in with Taylor Motter swinging a hot bat.

With Jean Segura back at shortstop from a DL stint on Tuesday, the Marinersi were left looking for a spot to play Motter, who started the season as Seattle’s utility man. So with Seager nursing his hip issue, Servais decided to give him more time to recover – even with Seager insisting he feels fne.

“I’m trying to be proactive on this thing and kinda take the decision away from him,” Servais said of Seager. “We have a lot of games left, we have a long season to go and I would hate to lose him for a significant amount of time so cautious right now.”

Huard: Mariners may face more tough decisions soon

Of course, that’s not the whole story. Motter leads the team with five home runs and is second behind only Mitch Haniger with a .988 OPS, so Servais didn’t have to think too hard about giving his regular third baseman another day to get back to 100 percent.

“It makes it a little bit easier. Taylor’s done a great job for us,” Servais said.

When Seager is back in the starting lineup – presumably Wednesday – the answer about where to play Motter will get a little harder. Servais at least appears excited about the opportunities Motter’s ability to play multiple positions – essentially every spot but catcher and pitcher – will afford him.

“The versatility he’s got is really a plus. It almost turns into a Ben Zobrist-type player. …You can kinda put him all different spots in the field and (he’ll) still give you a good at-bat, so really valuable for us.”

New approach to Diaz’s role

Mariners closer Edwin Diaz has seen limited action so far in 2017, appearing in just six games for 6 2/3 innings of work. Servais is looking to get him more action, which means Diaz won’t be exclusive to the ninth inning.

“He may pitch in some not-typical closer spots. On the road, tie game in the eighth, maybe down by 1 in the eighth, try to keep the other team there knowing that if we do come back and tie or take the lead he can run back out there for the ninth,” Servais said.

Servais’ reasoning has a lot to do with Diaz’s age and inexperience. After all, Diaz was a low-level minor league starter just a season ago, so he’s still learning how to pitch out of the bullpen.

“I think it’s really important people understand he’s not this seasoned, 29-, 30-, 31-year-old guy that can sit down there for five, six days then roll out there dotting the fastball,” Servais said. “He needs to pitch, and he’s still 23 years old. A lot of guys are still sticking around in Double-A at that point, and he’s in the big leagues. We want him to pitch, he’s one of our best pitchers, so he may be used in more unconventional spots.”


• The Mariners are doing their best to be patient with Steve Cishek’s return from offseason hip labrum surgery. The side-arming righty reliever is still working out his mechanics after three minor league appearances, and Servais wants him to be in tip-top shape when he’s finally activated from the diabled list. Cishek’s rehab assignment, which started April 17, can last up to 30 days. “When he comes up, we need him. We need him to be good right away,” Servais said. “Would like to use him in higher-leverage spots right away and want to make sure he’s in a good spot before we do that.”

• You can find the full lineups for Tuesday’s game in this post. As previously mentioned, Segura is set to make his return from a strained right hamstring, hitting leadoff and playing shortstop.

Date Starting Pitcher
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Notebook: Taylor Motter’s emergence gives Mariners extra time to rest Kyle Seager