Mariners notebook: Changes likely coming to how teams use video
MLB held the annual Cactus League Media Day on Tuesday afternoon, an event where the managers and general managers of the Arizona spring training clubs are made available to the media, all in one place. Following the question-and-answer sessions, the managers met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, and it’s not hard to imagine what the main topic was.
While the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal has remained front and center from a national coverage aspect with stars like Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger weighing in and the Astros continuing to fumble their way through various “apologies,” it has not been a focus in the Mariners clubhouse. Only five players remain from the Mariners’ 2017 roster that would have faced the Astros at what MLB has determined to be the height of Houston’s cheating, and those five are surrounded by players who were years away from their Major League debut at the time.
To that end, Mariners manager Scott Servais hasn’t seen or heard anything in the clubhouse that would prompt him to address the team about redirecting focus.
“We’ve got enough things to focus on here,” Servais said. “We’ve got so many young players on the team, a lot on our plate. We’re trying to get ready for spring training games on Feb. 26.”
Servais would not disclose what was discussed in the managers’ meeting with the Manfred but did acknowledge that based on public comments the commissioner has made, change that will impact all clubs appears to be coming. One thing we could see is limited access to the video room during games. It is a change Servais would welcome.
“I don’t think there was one manger who was not in favor of that,” he said.
The video room, which at T-Mobile Park is about 15 feet from the bottom of the dugout steps, has seen more and more activity in the past 10 years. Players will pop in to look at an at-bat, to study their swings or sometimes to look at a pitch that was called a strike. While the use of video and technology is so important in preparation and development, in-game it can sometimes shift the focus in the wrong direction.
“I think players get so locked into that video and whatnot. I understand it is a tool used to look at their swings during the course of the game but I personally would like to have our guys in the dugout a little more,” said Servais. “We will see what happens.”
Should players be banned from the video room (or video area in certain road stadiums), it will be an adjustment for players, but an interesting one at that. With everything in the game moving at light speed – relative to baseball’s usual pace – when it comes to technology, this would be a rare step back. Might not be a bad thing.
Mariners Hot Stove Show
If you missed the Hot Stove Show Tuesday night on 710 ESPN, never fear, we have a podcast.
On the show I mentioned a name to keep an eye on, someone who could be camp surprise, Rule 5 pick Yohan Ramirez. The Mariners love the arm of the 24 year old right-hander who was left unprotected by the Astros. The question now is can they improve the command?
“It is a special special arm,” said Servais. “Certainly he needs innings, he needs reps. When you have a young player that has that much talent, can we harness it? He’s been very impressive. It’s just bullpens but that ball is coming out hot, it’s a really good breaking ball, his delivery is pretty simple. His issue has been being consistent throwing it over the plate. Once games begin we will have a better feel but really excited about it. It’s a tremendous talent, great fit for where we are at.”
Where they are at of course is in position to give opportunity. The Astros needed win now, don’t hurt the big club type players. The Mariners can afford to go to work on a player they like at the big league level and do so as a reliever rather than a starter as he was in the minors. This will limit his exposure and opportunity to get into trouble with the short outings. First thing is first however, he will have to show enough promise when games starts for the Mariners to take him into season.
• After the birth of Dee Gordon’s first child, a baby girl named Demi, the new dad is expected to arrive in camp on Friday.
• Reliever Matt Magill, one of Scott Servais’ more trusted bullpen options, has been dealing with an unspecified arm issue for the past few weeks and as a result has been held back a bit in camp. “He’s about 10 days behind,” said Servais. “Progress is moving in the right direction from what the trainers have been telling me. He should be fine.” Servais said the slow start is not as much of a concern for relievers. If he is just 10 days behind he would still have a decent chance of being ready for the start of the season.
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