Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Mariners came into Spring Training this year with many roster questions with gaps needing to be filled. With three weeks of Spring Training already played, the coaching staff is beginning to see results. From offensive concerns, power needs in the lineup, and potential starters for the rotation; players are beginning to seize the opportunity.
The Seattle Mariners spent over $260 million this offseason in an attempt to recover from a disappointing 2013 season. General Manager Jack Zduriencik immediately improved the offense by bringing in free agent Robinson Cano. Anytime you take the best hitter from of the New York Yankees and then plug him in middle of your lineup, creates a massive improvement.
Cano has proven he has a long way to go before slowing down. He is currently batting .500, and is improving hitters all around him. You can find Cano spending extra time with players like Justin Smoak and Mike Zunino after daily workouts, helping them progress as the highly touted prospects they were drafted to be.
Cano’s success in the middle of the lineup has also taken the pressure off the other hitters, allowing them to relax and focus on their own progression. Dustin Ackley is currently knocking the cover off the ball, hitting an astounding .500 going into today’s play. There were times even during his rookie season where Ackley was asked to hit 3rd in the lineup. That pressure is now gone, and we are seeing that effect other hitters like Logan Morrison, Kyle Seager, Smoak, and Zunino all currently hitting over the .300 mark.
The Mariners depth at Starting Pitching was not horrible going into Spring Training, but injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker created plenty of opportunities for those striving for a spot in the starting rotation. So far, those pitchers are stepping up in a big way. James Paxton has 5 innings pitched and has yet to give up a run. Erasmo Ramirez and Scott Baker both have two or more starts, and neither have an ERA over 2.00.
It has become a common theme that when the starter leaves the game, the opposing team has yet to score a run. It’s also becoming regular to see the Mariners offense outscoring the opponent by almost double the amount of runs. Yes, this may be just spring training, but with 3 weeks left until opening day; we are already seeing regular season matchups. Spring Training is doing a great job aiding the Mariners answer roster questions.