Get To Know Your Mariners: Dan Altavilla looking for healthy, productive 2020
Mariners spring training is full of names and faces you may recognize, some belonging to players who for the most part have yet to have a chance to make an impression to fans and others who have a chance to make a new first impression. That’s where our new series comes in.
Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, is catching up with the highly touted prospects, recent acquisitions and more under-the-radar players in Peoria, Ariz., throughout spring training to provide insight into who are the 2020 Mariners are beyond.
Relief pitcher Dan Altavilla joins Shannon in the latest installment to talk about working through injury and looking to find a regular role in Seattle’s bullpen at 27 years old.
Dan Altavilla is entering his seventh season in the Mariners organization, and in that time we have gotten to know him well on the hill. More on that below. This video is mostly about getting to know Dan a little bit better off the field as he prepares for what will be a very important season for him.
Family, friends, home are what come to mind when I think of Altavilla off the field. While it is clear he doesn’t take offseasons off – there is still plenty of time spent in the weight room and much work that has been done at outside performance facilities – I don’t see him being one who moves to the warmer climates to train.
Home is Elizabeth, Penn., a small borough in Allegheny County just 15 miles outside of Pittsburgh. He is still close to the childhood friends he grew up playing baseball, hockey, football and basketball with, and it is there where he continues to cheer on the Steelers and Penguins. It is there where he returns to his high school to give clinics. It is there where he is “Uncle Didi” and celebrates the holidays with his family, in recent years helping out his sister by playing Santa Claus for the kids at the day care center she runs.
“It’s a good time,” he said of playing Santa. “Each year it seems less and less criers and more smilers. Especially when we bring out the toys. A couple of the younger ones get close and then just lose it.”
In 2019, the home folks got to see Dan in action when the Mariners played three games against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. With smaller crowds on hand for the series, it wasn’t hard to find the Atlavilla jerseys in the stands. The crew was out in force and in the third game, Altavilla finally got to pitch in front of them, throwing one inning while striking out two.
“It was a proud moment for me that I could go out with the Mariners name on the front and our family name on the back,” he said.
It was a good outing in what was a good month in the big leagues for Altavilla. The year as a whole was somewhat frustrating as a forearm strain in early July sidelined him until August. A second straight year with injuries had him approach his offseason work a little differently at the end of the season.
“That’s the emphasis is staying healthy this year,” he said. “I think going back to back years going on the (injured list) is really frustrating for me but it also teaches you to learn some lessons along the way, maybe back down from some workouts in-season, and then focus on the mobility aspect of it. I think that is going to be important to me working with the trainers. I think that’s just a big thing for me, always come out firing but stay on top of things in the weight room and training room.”
While Altavilla did not go into specifics of what needed to change, he did indicate that perhaps his workouts in the past did hinder his flexibility and mobility.
Work has never been the issue with Altavilla, but sometimes the work needs to change. Heading into what will be an important season as he is out of minor league options, any change that can help bring more consistent performances out of him will be good change.
The stuff is there, the Mariners just need to see it more.
“Danny’s had some really good outings or stretches in the big leagues and he’s had some where it has gotten off the rails,” said manager Scott Servais. “Some of it has been mechanically driven. I do think he is in a good spot now in how he has simplified his delivery.
“Hopefully this is the year he figures it all out. He’s going to have a very good run in the big leagues, there’s no question, he’s got the stuff to do it. When that happens? I don’t know. I’m hoping it’s this year.”
The video is shot appropriately in front of the six-pack bullpen in Peoria, where some of the technology that the Mariners have been using can be seen in the back.
It’s worth noting that Altavilla has been far ahead of the curve in using the technology going back to the early days of Driveline Baseball. It’s fun to hear him talk a little bit about what is now commonplace in the game.
Let’s get to know a little bit more about Dan Altavilla.
More from Shannon’s Get To Know Your Mariners series
• Cal Raleigh has been on the baseball path since Day 1
• OF Jake Fraley could be the gem of Zunino trade
• If anyone can relate to top Mariners prospects, it’s Taijuan Walker
• Julio Rodriguez looks the part of future superstar on and off the field