That’s Mariners outfield coach Mike Brumley, who told me in a conversation this afternoon that he is indeed trying to “overplay” the outfield gaps a bit in his positioning of fielders this first month.
Brumley said he went and spoke to Franklin Gutierrez about how he’ll cover a particular hitter straight-up. From there, he said, he’ll have either Michael Saunders or Ryan Langerhans — whoever is playing center field that day — move over about two or three steps closer to the gap.
“So, if Guti plays at one point, we play two to three steps stronger from the gap side,” Brumley said. “We’ve started it from Day 1, trying to overplay some gaps and some tendencies.”
There will also be some overshifting of the left fielder at times, depending on who is at the plate.
But Ichiro is left primarily alone. Brumley said he isn’t about to tell the longtime Gold Glover to start changing his game around. Ichiro goes where he feels most comfortable.
“Ichi for the most part has such a feel with how he likes to play things,” Brumley said. “There have been about four or five instances where I’ve gone to him and said ‘Hey, we’d like to try to take the line away from this guy.’ But i normally just try to let him do what he does and just concentrate on the other two guys.”
Brumley said that, sometimes, the hunches don’t work out. With a starting pitcher like Felix Hernandez, who is usually on his game, the team can anticipate where an opponent will hit the ball. But when a pitcher starts missing spots, hitters will often send the ball in different directions and can make the fielders look bad.
“But that’s baseball,” Brumley said.
Still, he added, other than the series in Texas, where the Rangers were splitting gaps in all three games, Brumley doesn’t feel the fielders have been missing stuff. “The Rangers split gaps because that’s what they do,” Brumley said. “They’re an excellent hitting team.”
So, for those of you wondering about positioning and whether it’s playing into some of the balls dropping into the outfield so far, there’s your answer. Brumley said a lot of it has just been bad luck, along with the occasional mistake.
We’ll keep an eye on that situation.
Gutierrez, meanwhile, has been tested at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the team is in the process of getting the results.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said there should be some type of announcement in another day or two.
Milton Bradley is back in there tonight, while Adam Kennedy is as well. Kennedy will bat fifth.