Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels Series Preview
Mar 22, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) hits a three run home run during the third inning against the Texas Rangers at Peoria Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Our First Look at the Revamped Mariners’ Lineup
Scoring runs has been a huge problem for the Mariners over the last decade. It has been rare for the M’s to even post average numbers at the plate. General Manager Jack Zduriencik was on a mission this offseason to improve the M’s offense. Zduriencik and his staff made a number of changes this winter, some significant, and some less pronounced.
Nelson Cruz is the powerful right-handed bat the M’s have been searching for. Cruz led Major League Baseball in 2014 by crushing 40 home runs. The 34-year-old designated hitter lived up to the hype in spring training, hitting .309 with 4 home runs and 10 RBI’s across 55 at bats. While 40 dingers may be overly optimistic at Safeco Field, there is no reason Cruz will not hit 30 plus homers in 2015. Cruz will combine with Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager to create one of the most formidable trios in all of baseball.
Mar 17, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners outfielder Seth Smith against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
On Monday afternoon, M’s fans will get their first chance to see Seth Smith as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Seattle acquired Smith from the San Diego Padres in exchange for hard throwing righty Brandon Mauer. Smith will bat second and play right field for the M’s against right-handed pitchers in 2015. The 32-year-old had a great season last year with the Padres, and should be a big upgrade at the top of the Mariners’ order. Smith hit .238 this spring, with 4 doubles, 1 home run and 5 RBI’s across 42 at bats.
Justin Ruggiano is another new face that will get his first opportunity to don a Mariners’ uniform this week against the Halos. Ruggiano spent 2014 patrolling right field with the Chicago Cubs. Ruggiano will be stationed out in right field for the M’s when a southpaw opposes Seattle. The 31-year-old hit .256 with 1 home run and 6 RBI’s across 39 Cactus League at bats. Ruggiano is a solid defender capable of playing all 3 spots in the outfield. There are very few 4th outfielders better than Ruggiano, and he could be key for the M’s in 2015.
Rickie Weeks spent the first 11 years of his career playing second base for the Milwaukee Brewers before singing with the Mariners as a free agent this winter. Weeks made 1 All Star appearance, and he has hit at least 20 home runs in 3 of his last 5 seasons. The Mariners will utilize the 32-year-old in a platoon with Dustin Ackley in left field. Skipper Lloyd McClendon has suggested that Weeks will bat leadoff and play left field against left-handed starters in 2015. Weeks struggled in spring training, hitting just .195 with 2 home runs and 2 RBI’s across 41 at bats. However, Weeks is a powerful right-handed bat, and he clobbered a ball well over the 40 ft. batters eye in center field at the Peoria Sports Complex.
Next: First Look at the 2015 Los Angeles Angels