SHANNON DRAYER

Notebook: Mariners taking a different approach to baserunning

Mar 2, 2018, 10:42 AM | Updated: 11:29 am
Baserunning has been an issue for multiple years for the Mariners. (AP)...
Baserunning has been an issue for multiple years for the Mariners. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – While the results may not (OK, certainly do not) indicate that baserunning has been a particular focus of the Mariners the past two springs, it in fact has been. A little can add up to a lot on the bases – both the positive and the negative, and for this team it is the latter that we have seen.

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Bad baserunning has cost the Mariners in recent years, and to that end it was back to the drawing board for manager Scott Servais to find a way to better teach it. The result? A 15-minute drill with the full squad on the bases, minor leaguers fielding positions and a coach hitting off flips.

“How do you practice baserunning?” Servais asked Friday morning. “It’s all about reading the ball off the bat and trying to get as much as you can out of a 15-minute time slot not having the guys running around the bases over and over again at 100 percent. It’s constant motion, all the reads are different.”

The drill itself is different, designed to best replicate game situations and speed. When it was introduced at a team meeting last week there were plenty of questions about logistics as there is constant motion involving the entire offense, but players were able to see the benefit once put into practice.

“It’s a tough thing to practice,” said catcher Mike Zunino. “It sort of gets the thinking side of the bases. Obviously you have to know who you are as a baserunner, but just seeing that ball flight with a defense out there, seeing it off the bat, getting that timing, it’s big. If you don’t perfect that, that’s where you can get doubled up, you can get caught in between. It’s nice. It keeps everyone on their toes, it’s not taxing on the body but you can really just go through the reads.”

The Mariners had some mishaps on the bases in the first few games of Cactus League play and have run this drill twice since. We shall see if there is improvement over the spring and after March 29.

Lineup! vs Brewers, 12:05 p.m.

Ben Gamel, LF
Andrew Romine, SS
Mike Zunino, DH
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B
Junior Lake, RF
Taylor Motter, 3B
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Mike Marjama, C
Braden Bishop, CF

Marco Gonzales, LHP

Also scheduled to pitch: Marc Rzepczynski, Shawn Armstrong, James Pazos, Johendi Jiminian, Dan Altavilla.

Notes

• There could be a little bit of a circus when the Mariners arrive in Maryvale for the game. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani pitched in a B-game earlier against the Brewers and the media contingent was large. He struck out eight of the 12 batters he faced. I am guessing most, if not all, were minor leaguers, but the report was his breaking ball was absolutely wicked. The Mariners host the Angels on Saturday but I am told Ohtani is not scheduled to DH.

• In addition to the baserunning drill, we should see another situational game coming up soon in one of the Mariners’ early workouts in the coming days. Servais has not been happy with the Mariners’ production with a man on third so far in games.

• A number of pitchers on the mend are getting closer to playing in games. Art Warren is scheduled to throw live batting practice Friday. David Phelps is scheduled to pitch in the game against the Angels Saturday. Nick Vincent will throw a bullpen Saturday and follow it up with a live BP shortly after. If all goes well we should see him in a game next week.

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Notebook: Mariners taking a different approach to baserunning