Scott Servais on Mariners’ defense: ‘I knew it was going to be an issue’ after Kyle Seager’s injury
Entering the first season of a rebuild, there were some things fans could expect the Mariners would struggle with. Defense may not have been near the top of that list, however.
It is now. With 60 errors entering Wednesday, the Mariners have had the most trouble of any team in the majors in the field.
Did manager Scott Servais see Seattle’s defensive problems coming?
“When Kyle Seager went on the IL in spring training I knew it was going to be an issue,” Servais told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Wednesday morning. “We asked Ryon Healy to play out of position really for 50-some games, and (that’s) not easy.”
Healy, currently on the 10-day injured list with a back injury, is tied for fourth among all MLB players with nine errors, though he did appear to improve at third the longer he played there instead of his customary first base. The Mariners also have the league leader in errors in Tim Beckham, who has been Seattle’s starting shortstop for much of the season and will re-assume that spot with J.P. Crawford hitting the IL on Wednesday with an ankle sprain suffered the night before.
Servais pointed to how the Mariners’ starting rotation is constructed for part of the reason why Healy and Beckham have so many errors.
“When you have the amount of left-handed starters that we have with all the right-handed bats (throughout the league), the balls are gonna get pulled to the left side. … And Tim Beckham struggled early at shortstop as well,” Servais said. “I knew that was going to be tough there.”
What Servais didn’t expect, however, was for the defensive woes to also be so present in the outfield. Left fielder Domingo Santana ranks last in all of baseball with a minus-12.5 defensive WAR, and Mallex Smith has also had his issues in center field.
“Our outfield defense I thought would be better than it has been, to be honest with you,” Servais said, though he added he has been encouraged by Smith’s recent play. “Looks like Mallex is starting to turn the corner, get his confidence back. I thought he played a really good ball game last night, shagging some balls in the outfield, swinging the bat better – that’s a good sign. Domingo has struggled defensively and that’s a surprise. I thought it would be average defense in the outfield from Domingo. He’s certainly done enough in the batter’s box, it just hasn’t been consistent defensively.”
Servais talked about much more with Brock and Salk during the interview, which you can listen to in the player embedded in this post or download in podcast form here.