Notebook: Help for the infielders, Pryor’s rare surgery
By Shannon Drayer
After the number of errors and misplays that have been made by the Mariners’ young infielders of late, it wasn’t a complete surprise to see minor-league infield coordinator Chris Woodward in the clubhouse in St. Petersburg Tuesday.
Woodward, who has spent the season traveling from minor-league affiliate to affiliate and making trips to the Venezulean and Dominican Summer Leagues to see some of the youngest Mariners, said it was more of a coincidence as Tampa is home. Still, he was very aware of the recent inconsistencies in the field with Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, but not surprised.
Brad Miller has committed six errors this season while fellow rookie infielder Nick Franklin has committed eight. (AP)
“They are just going through becoming big leaguers,” said Woodward, who has worked with both players. “Obviously, it is so hard as a young player. I remember that feeling of, ‘I want to show everyone that I am a big leaguer.’ It is very rare to have someone come up and be consistent across the lines. You are going to have to go through the ups and downs.”
That they have. The ups include providing a punch at the top of the lineup for the better part of a month. The downs have been missed plays and the 14 errors they have combined to commit. Those errors aren’t indicative of the talent level according to Woodward, who said Miller and Franklin are dealing with things at this level that they did not have to deal with before. It can have an impact on what takes place on the field.
“You don’t have the media or the papers saying this or that,” he noted. “Have you ever seen a pair of young guys make plays like this? And then the next game they throw to the wrong base or there are mistakes, but as long as they are learning from them and becoming more comfortable to where they feel they belong out there, they get over that hump.
“You become more confident, you become more relaxed and you are able to do what you should be doing and the game will slow down.”
Woodward is echoing the words of Mike Blowers on the pregame show and Ken Griffey Jr. while he was in town this weekend. The game may be the same, but what comes with it is different and that takes adjusting to as well. There is simply nowhere to hide at the big-league level. If you do something, it will be seen. If you do something particularly good or bad, it will be replayed over and over.
“Right now I know what they are going through, especially when you make a couple of mistakes, now all of a sudden you feel the spotlight is on you in a bad way, and that is hard to get out of,” Woodward said.
For now, they play through it. The idea is they will learn from their mistakes, be coached through them if necessary and as Woodward said, become more comfortable at this level.
News and notes
• I tweeted (@shannondrayer) and talked about this on the radio but have not written about it yet. Reliever Stephen Pryor had a very interesting surgery last week. It was only the third time that surgery had been performed on a baseball player (Jake Peavy was the first to undergo it) and it was necessary because an MRI revealed that Pryor’s torn lat had healed by attaching to the triceps and not the bone. I am told Pryor’s surgery was far less extensive than Peavy’s and that he is expected to be ready to go in six months. Peavy had his surgery July 14, 2010 and started the 2011 season in the minors before returning to the White Sox on May 11. He pitched 219 innings in 2012.
• The outfield juggling continues with Dustin Ackley in center on Tuesday and Michael Saunders on the bench. Acting manager Robby Thompson in his pregame meeting with the media said that this has more to do with Ackley than Saunders.
“We have got to see what we really have out there with Ackley in center field,” Thompson said. “We kind of know what we have with Saunders in center field. Saunders and Ackley will be splitting time here and there. We just want to get a better feel for how Ack is out there in center and possibly left field as well.”
• The Mariners and the Rays have met 38 times since David Price’s big-league debut. On Wednesday he will face the Mariners for the first time.