BRENT STECKER

Mariners Table Setter: Kyle Seager’s changes include batting stance

Feb 22, 2019, 4:06 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2019, 12:15 am
Mitch Haniger homered and Kyle Seager went 2 for 2 in the Mariners' game Friday. (AP)...
Mitch Haniger homered and Kyle Seager went 2 for 2 in the Mariners' game Friday. (AP)
(AP)

The Mariners have returned to the diamond – well, people wearing uniforms with “MARINERS” stitched across the front have, anyways.

Drayer: M’s off on right foot with 8-1 Cactus League win over A’s

It’s a very different look for Seattle in spring training, both with the Mariners’ new powder blue uniforms and with the players who are on the roster. But after their first Cactus League game (technically their first two if you want to split hairs), there’s no question there’s some excitement radiating from the M’s, who beat the A’s 8-1 on Friday (box score here).

Here are a few takeaways from the combined 10 ½ innings the Mariners played against Oakland on Thursday and Friday.

Kyle Seager’s stance is among his many changes.

One of the biggest stories of the early days of spring training has been Kyle Seager’s transformation. He spent his offseason making several changes, a significant weight loss grabbing most of the headlines. But as detailed in Shannon Drayer’s excellent feature from earlier this week, the 30-year-old third baseman did a lot of work with his swing this offseason.

After watching Seager’s Cactus League debut on Friday, it’s clear that work on his swing adjustments came with a new batting stance, as well.

The old Seager stance is very recognizable. Once in the box, Seager would wait for the pitcher to get set before he got into his stance, waiting with his back straightened before moving into a more ready stance, which was fairly upright.

On Friday, Seager got right into a ready stance instead of waiting for the pitcher, and the stance appears to be wider, perhaps more open and definitely features more of a crouch.

So will it work? Obviously time will tell, but it’s hard not to be encouraged by the early results. Seager went 2 for 2, including a double off Daniel Mengden in the first inning that found open space in right field against the shift, followed by a very promising single to left field off lefty Ryan Buchter.

Mitch Haniger still looks like Mitch Haniger.

Remember Mitch Haniger? First-time All-Star in 2018, hit .285 with 26 home runs, 93 RBIs and an .859 OPS?

Surely this will jog your memory.

Yeah, that’s Mitch Haniger just being Mitch Haniger. First at-bat of the spring, 3-2 count, homer onto the berm.

Haniger hadn’t played a game since November’s MLB All-Star Tour in Japan, but it sure didn’t look like it.

The prospects are providing entertainment.

Well, if I’m going to write a takeaways post from a spring training featuring so many new names, it wouldn’t make much sense to not bring up some of those names.

The first to really stand out was Shed Long, a second baseman the Mariners acquired from the Yankees (who got him from the Reds the same day) for Josh Stowers in a prospect-for-prospect deal. Long was the leadoff man in Thursday’s rained out game against the A’s, getting a pair of at-bats in before things were called after 1 ½ innings. And in those two at-bats, Long came through with a pair of doubles. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Long was hardly the only prized prospect to make his mark in the early going of Cactus League action.

Another acquisition from the Yankees, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, got three at-bats on Friday, going 1 for 3. First baseman Evan White, the Mariners’ first-round pick from 2017, went 1 for 2 with a walk after entering Friday’s game as a pinch-runner for Ryon Healy. And on the mound, Justin Dunn, one of the more notable additions from the blockbuster trade with the Mets, pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout.

While Cactus League games aren’t always the most entertaining contests, there will be plenty of young talent worth keeping tabs on this spring for the Mariners. Even teenage outfield prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez are expected to get some playing time in big league games, so don’t sleep on the spring games just because the M’s won’t usually be employing their regular lineup.

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