From 76 wins to the World Series? New Mariner Chris Iannetta has seen it before
The Colorado Rockies finished 76-86 in 2006. The next season, catcher Chris Iannetta watched as a number of veterans came together on a new team, putting together a historic winning streak that ultimately led to the franchise’s first World Series berth.
In his first year with a Mariners team coming off its own 76-win season, Iannetta told “Brock and Salk” about the little things from that Colorado squad that changed the clubhouse culture. It started with infielder Jamey Carroll bridging the gap between the role players and stars, and continued with goofballs Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui just being themselves.
“They would just make fun of each other the entire time and they didn’t speak each others language,” Iannetta said. “One was speaking Japanese and one was speaking Spanish and somehow they got along and communicated and it was just fun to watch.”
First-year Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is working on his own culture change in Seattle, having brought in clubhouse experience that includes Adam Lind, Nori Aoki, Wade Miley, Joaquin Benoit as well as Iannetta, whose teams have reached the playoffs in three of his 10 seasons.
“The difference between the best teams and the worst teams in the league are very minute,” Iannetta said. “So what is separating them? It’s all the little things. For me, it’s the pitcher-catcher relationships, that dialogue and getting to know the guys and how can I maximize what I can get out of them and how can they help me to get better.”
Besides learning how best to handle each of Seattle’s pitchers, Iannetta is focusing on reclaiming his approach at the plate after what he called a “miserable” first two months of last season. After a strong 2014 in which Iannetta hit .252 with a .373 on-base percentage, the 32-year-old saw his batting average dip to .188, his walks fall from 54 to 41 and his OBP plummet to .293 last year.
Iannetta said he tried to be more aggressive heading into his free-agent year and spent too much of the time down 0-2 in the count.
“I’m a guy who is gonna see pitches, who is gonna take a lot of close pitches, but I was swinging at everything,” he said. “And that’s not me.”