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On precipice of Mariners promotion, Shed Long gets ‘rhythm’ down

Mariners prospect Shed Long is performing well for Triple-A Tacoma. (AP)

The baseball bat that sits next to Shed Long’s bed as he sleeps isn’t there for protection. In fact, he’s had one there as long as he can remember.

Related: Shed Long explains why he doesn’t drink water

As the Tacoma Rainiers second baseman sits on the precipice of realizing his major league dreams, he starts every day by reaching over, feeling the bat and getting his “rhythm.” It’s that rhythm that Long has learned to seek out from dawn until dusk, beginning with the bat.

“I wake up and I feel that bat. I’m always thinking about rhythm. I don’t want to get stagnant – have rhythm. I take that into, I’m listening to music, I’m dancing around, I’m having rhythm,” Long says, demonstrating the rhythm he most certainly has in the dugout.

“I take it into the cage – feel the rhythm, feel the rhythm,” he continues. “Bring it onto the field, feel the rhythm, continue. Today I was feeling really good and I just wanted to take that on into the game, just rhythm, rhythm. Be smooth and feel the rhythm.”

Shed was feeling the rhythm in such a way, he drove in five RBIs Wednesday night, including a grand slam off of former Mariners reliever Marc Rzepczynski.

Long came to the Mariners organization in January as part of a three-team trade that also included the Reds and Yankees. The Reds sent him to New York along with a competitive balance round A selection in exchange for veteran right hand pitcher Sonny Gray, and the Yankees subsequently flipped hi to Seattle for outfield prospect Josh Stowers.

Drafted by Cincinnati straight out of high school, the 23-year-old Long finds himself in Triple-A for the first time in his career. His sights on the majors haven’t wavered and his preparation is a daily process.

“Come out on a daily basis and be consistent with the work,” he explains. “Come out and have a plan. That’s what I’m really learning here is how to have a plan and stick with that plan, throughout the day, throughout the game and keep that going over and over.”

While he, just like everyone in the Mariners’ developmental system, is focused on making it in the bigs, he has a true appreciation for the knowledge he’s acquired in Tacoma.

“Just learn more about myself. When you struggle, that’s when you see who you really are,” he says with determination. “Everything’s easy when you’re doing well, but when you start to struggle, that’s when you learn how to be a man. It’s really helped me to learn more about myself and more about how to be a professional.”

And when things aren’t going well? He sticks to his plan.

“You just have to force yourself to do it. You struggle because you get away from your plan. Just getting back into that plan and sticking with that plan and having the discipline,” he says. “You know, if I don’t stick with my plan I’m gonna fail, so, which one do you want to do – fail or be successful? For me, I’m trying to be perfect.”

His major league dreams within reach – as it turns out, just a few days away – Shed knows who will be there to see his debut.

“My parents are definitely gonna be there,” he says. “I want my grandmother there. Definitely have my family there. Then my agent, we have plans for them to come out.”

With his rhythm, his plan and his consistency, he’s sure he’ll be there soon.

“You know… it’s close,” he says knowingly, and with a smile sure to grace your television set in the near future.

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