Baseball is back, baby! While it’s unwise to draw too much meaning from Spring Training, it’s impossible not to notice a few things early on. Here’s what the LL staff was most struck by in the first week of spring (unlike the Mariners, it was not baseballs).
The good: DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. DEE GORDON HIT A HOME RUN. This means that the regular season can begin now, yes? Okay, good. Oh, and I’ve also enjoyed watching less-beloved second son Evan White pick anything and everything thrown in his general vicinity.
The bad: Whatever unbelievably dreadful crimes that Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto must have committed over the offseason to rack up this many bad karma injury points.
The bad: Despite adding a ton of speed in Dee Gordon, the Mariners are still running themselves into boneheaded outs on the bases. Stop doing that, you guys.
The good: Dan Altavilla threw himself into a rigorous training regimen this off-season, cleaning up his diet even more, building himself a Driveline-style Plyo wall, and dedicating himself to getting better. So far, it seems to be paying off; he’s faced six batters, retired every one, with five of those six coming via the strikeout.
The Bad: Felix getting hit by that comebacker and the hours that followed were truly brutal and just the complete opposite of what I look to baseball to provide in my life. I am very glad that there doesn’t seem to be structural damage that they know of and hopefully it is just a very bad contusion. Just….god dammit, did it have to be his already fragile pitching arm?
The Good: Dee Gordon is looking solid at the plate and pretty comfortable in centerfield so far. Jean Segura is looking THICK and ready to rake at the plate. I’m encouraged by Mike Ford’s plate discipline and general mature presence in the box. He gives the impression of having much more MLB experience than he actually does. Overall, I am happy with what I’ve seen from most of the hitters so far.
The Bad: I’m with Eric here; Felix getting nailed by that line drive left me completely gutted. While we’re all thankful that it doesn’t seem very serious, he will still miss at least a week or two, and suddenly there’s a tiny bit of doubt surrounding his readiness for Opening Day. Andrew Moore and Christian Bergman getting rocked on Tuesday didn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence, either.
The Good: The bats have been quite fun to watch! Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, and Kyle Seager have all had excellent starts to spring, with Gordon being able to show off his speed a few times and looking like a decent center fielder. It’s been the smallest of small sample sizes so far, but this team looks like it’ll be a lot of fun to watch at the plate.
The Bad: My memory is often outpaced by others on our staff and in this community, but I do not remember any team bunting more than the 2018 Seattle Mariners of this Spring Training. This team is going to have enough trouble with a thin rotation; they can’t afford to be giving outs away offensively. Guys like Dee Gordon and Ian Miller should have carte blanche to bunt for base hits, and I suppose letting Andrew Romine bunt isn’t a significant loss, but it’s been a peculiar early trend that I hope remains in February.
The Good: MARCOOOO! While it’s difficult for me to get engaged with the Mariners’ mostly veteran offense this Spring, the pitching staff is stacked with low-to-mid 20s players who are either imminently going to be called upon or are an injury away from MLB action. That’s also made Marco Gonzales and Félix Hernández’s strong appearances all the more encouraging. Line drive shmine drive - if Félix had that comebacker happen a different year, he’d be stuck having gone months without throwing. As it is, he’s been in the normal flow, throwing bullpens, and seems likely to miss a week or so early in Spring, at worst. We knew the offense would be good, and we still don’t have much more reason to be confident in the pitching, but we’ve seen more positives than negatives from the first line.