Hot Stove podcast: Checking in with Mike Zunino and Andy McKay talks player development

Feb 2, 2016, 11:58 PM | Updated: 11:59 pm

By Shannon Drayer

If you missed the “Hot Stove” Tuesday night on 710 ESPN Seattle, never fear, we have a podcast.

Dave Valle and Aaron Goldsmith joined me in studio for two hours of baseball talk that kicked off with a chat with Mike Zunino who was one of the participants in the recent hitting summit in Peoria.

“It was great,” he said. “All these guys know exactly what they are talking about and had some very good concepts. It was very simple, which I think is one of the biggest things when it comes to hitting is keeping everything simple and easy for the hitters to relate to.”

The hitting summit wasn’t Zunino’s first exposure to the new staff. Scott Servais traveled to Florida to see him shortly after he was hired and the two have talked on the phone since. Zunino has also had conversations with new director of player development Andy McKay on the mental side of the game.

“I’ve really taken a lot of the stuff he has said to heart knowing that the player I was and the stuff that I’ve done is still there,” he said. “It’s been nice to see that and use that to push me forward in my off season workouts to continue to get better and work on what I need to.”

Up next was new pitcher Nathan Karns who is clearly excited to come to the Mariners. Just listen.

Angels beat writer Alden Gonzalez wrapped up the first hour and gave his thoughts on Jerry Dipoto’s departure from Anaheim, the division and answered the question on whether or not he feels the Angels can be better in 2016 after not making any big moves this winter.

The second hour of the show featured two segments with farm director Andy McKay. Two segments can barely scratch the surface with McKay who is implementing new systems throughout the organization but we did get a small glimpse into some of the philosophies which will drive the teaching at the minor league levels.

“When most games are decided by 3 or fewer pitches it comes down to competing and trying to win pitches,” he said. “That is the main focus of the mental game. That’s what you are trying to do but how you would do it for each person is vastly different.”

McKay will also be heavily involved in deciding when to move players up in the system and said that there will be benchmarks that need to be accomplished and standards that need to be met before a player moves to the next level. All of this will take time.

“In general I would like to move guys slower,” he said. “It takes a lot of at bats and a lot of innings pitched to experience the things you need to experience. I want to see our players struggle. I want to see how they handle adversity. I want to see how a hitter handles an 0 for 19. It’s a skill to learn how to handle those things, how to get out of them. I want them to play on teams that lose 5 in a row and figure out how to stop it and how to get back on track and those are all things that you need time to experience in the minor leagues because if you are experiencing things for the first time in the major leagues it can get really rough for you really fast.”

The show wrapped up with a visit from senior marketing director Gregg Greene and his son Max who stopped by to talk about the Mariners new kids initiatives which are aimed at getting more kids playing ball. The Mariners will be active in encouraging parents to sign kids up for Little League and will provide information and maps for parents to find teams for their kids at At the park there will be a new kids play area on the View Level which will include skills challenges, and the team will be giving away 100,000 Wiffle balls throughout the season. Last but not least, the Kids Club will be free this year. For more information on the kids initiatives and Kids Club visit


FILE - Retired San Francisco 49ers general manager John McVay stands next to a model of the planned...
Associated Press

5-time Super Bowl winning exec John McVay dies at age 91

John McVay, the executive who helped launch the San Francisco 49ers dynasty and grandfather of Rams coach Sean McVay, has died. He was 91. The 49ers announced Tuesday that McVay had died. They did not give a cause of death. McVay spent 22 seasons with the 49ers starting in 1979 in various capacities. He played […]
1 month ago
Mariners Rangers... Staff

Where to find Mariners-Rangers, Seahawks-Steelers on the radio

The Mariners' game Saturday against Texas will air on 770 AM as its gametime overlaps with the Seahawks' preseason opener.
4 months ago
No Author

EXPIRED: Win tickets to see Five Finger Death Punch with Megadeath

Seattle Sports has your chance to win two tickets to see Five Finger Death Punch with Megadeath, the Hu, & Fire from the Gods when they come to White River Amphitheatre on Saturday, August 20, 2022. Tickets go on sale to the public on April 15 at Sweepstakes winners are subject to venue safety […]
8 months ago
No Author

EXPIRED: Enter to win The Who tickets!

KIRO Radio and 710 ESPN Seattle have your chance to win a pair of tickets to see The Who at Climate Pledge Arena on Sunday, October 22nd, 2022!  
10 months ago
Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson to miss time once again with injured foot

For the second year in a row, Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson will miss time with a foot injury, head coach Pete Carroll announced on Friday.
1 year ago
NHL seattle...
Stephanie Klein

NHL Seattle drops hint of (team name?) announcement

NHL Seattle posted on Twitter a hint about an announcement on Thursday morning, and the internet is overwhelmingly assuming it's about a team name.
2 years ago
Hot Stove podcast: Checking in with Mike Zunino and Andy McKay talks player development