The Mariners got serious about their season Sunday with an 11-1 win over the Oakland Athletics just after they designated center fielder Leonys Martin for assignment.
Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin was never expected to hit as much as a few other names in the lineup this season, but he was expected to slash better than .111/.172/.130 in the first 15 games. With the division already in danger of slipping away after a terrible start to the season, the Mariners couldn’t wait for Martin to turn his numbers around.
Martin has always been a streaky hitter. Consistently getting on base was never going to be what Martin was about on this team. He was merely expected to supply a bit of power and speed, while holding his own in the batter’s box. 15 games might seem like a small sample size to get DFA’d, but the Mariners’ path to success is narrow this season. They need their light-hitting outfield to not be a liability that outweighs their valuable defensive contributions.
So far, left and center fielder Jarrod Dyson has been just about expected: able to get on base in spurts and cause trouble on the basepaths while running down everything in the outfield. Right Fielder Mitch Haniger has far surpassed expectations with the bat while playing solid defense in right. To his credit, Martin didn’t let his one extra base hit and his 6-for-54 start affect his defense for Seattle.
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The move to designate Martin for assignment shows General Manager Jerry Dipoto has little patience for plus defenders who can’t hit above the Mendoza Line. Even after an 11-1 victory over Oakland yesterday, the Mariners sit tied for last in the American League West with Los Angeles. At five and a half games behind the Houston Astros, against whom Seattle is 2-5 against so far, they can’t afford to have their center fielder hitting .111 if they want to make up that ground.
Mariners Recall Dan Vogelbach and Chris Heston Ahead of Victory Over Oakland
Many great things happened for the Mariners in their 11-1 drubbing of Oakland yesterday. Shortstop Taylor Motter, still filling in for the injured Jean Segura, blasted a Grand Slam in the third inning. Motter has taken full advantage of the playing time he has received with Segura on the Disabled List. Where will manager Scott Servais put him on the field to keep him in the lineup? Can he play left field?
Another great thing was starter Yovani Gallardo pitching 6 1/3 strong innings, scattering four hits and allowing only one run while striking out seven. I thought after his uninspired start to the season he could be on his way out in favor of Chase De Jong (who was optioned back to AAA Tacoma yesterday after being recalled yesterday and called in for clean-up duty when Ariel Miranda lasted three-plus innings; De Jong pitched four scoreless innings in relief). Maybe Heston would have replaced Gallardo in the rotation if he continued to struggle.
The Mariners recalled Dan Vogelbach from Tacoma, who earned his first MLB RBI with a single in the sixth inning yesterday. The Danny Valencia experiment at first base full time appears to be over, with the Dan V Crew presumably sharing time at first from now on. After a sluggish Spring, Vogelbach started the season strong in Tacoma, slashing .309/.409/.473 for the Rainiers. With Valencia looking lost at the plate and losing playing time to Mike Freeman, the time for Vogelbach’s promotion is now.
The Mariners are off tomorrow and take on the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday at 5:10.