When the Seattle Mariners returned from Japan to start the season at home, the starting outfield had Domingo Santana in left field, with Mallex Smith in center and Mitch Haniger in right. This seemed like a formidable lineup especially with the Mariners getting off to a hot start going 13-2.
Domingo Santana got off to a hot start hitting home runs and driving in runs but like most of the offense, he struggled in May though he has gotten back to hitting well again though he is striking out more than the Mariners would like him to. Like former Mariner Nelson Cruz, he is willing to hit the other way when he has two strikes on him and he has good power that way too.
Mallex Smith, on the other hand, much of it having to do with the fact he was injured most of spring training and should have gone on a rehab assignment to start the season, struggled at the plate. His struggles landed him to be demoted to triple-A Tacoma on a couple of stints. Since his last promotion back to the big club he has shown signs of hitting the ball well.
Mitch Haniger hasn’t gotten off to a good start offensively either though his power numbers look good. He played some center field while Smith was playing in Tacoma. Though he does play center field about the average or a little above it is obvious right field is his strongest position.
So now this comes to the outfield shift. This last week Jay Bruce was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies to give more playing time to Braden Bishop; however, on Tuesday night he injured his spleen so the Mariners placed him on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.
The Mariners signed veteran outfielder Mac Williamson who was released just a couple days ago by the San Francisco Giants to a minor league contract and reported to triple-A Tacoma and was scheduled to bat in the cleanup spot for the Rainiers instead he was promoted to Seattle to take Bishop’s spot while he is on the disabled list. With the Mariners leading 10-1 at the time late in the game Williamson pinch hit for designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach. In the process, he hit a three-run homer in his very first at-bat in a Mariner uniform. What a great first impression for the fans and his teammates.
Scott Servais mentioned a week or so ago that he was thinking about putting Santana back out in right field where he feels more comfortable. It is interesting because most people figure left field is easier to play but for some reason, Santana hasn’t felt that way.
It is interesting seeing Mallex Smith lose his helmet so many times when he is running to first base. In many ways, he looks the same way when he is in center field as though he has just lost his helmet once again. Of course, we know he doesn’t take his helmet out to play center but that is how it looks to me.
Until Braden Bishop returns it looks like Haniger will be the primary player out in center field. In Williamson’s career so far ,he has only played the corner outfield spots, so you probably won’t see him in center. Being a right-handed hitter I expect that Servais will use him primarily in left field when the Mariners are facing a lefty.