Just got off the phone with new Mariners catcher John Jaso, who is driving through Northern California at the moment, heading up toward his hometown of Yreka. So, he’s a Pacific Northwesterner at heart, as he told me.
His father still lives in Yreka, his mother down near San Diego, where he currently resides.
In other words, this trade leaves him a lot closer to home and family.
“I’m very excited about that,” he said.
The first thing I asked him about was his numbers dip from 2010 to 2011.
“I think it was a little bit of second year stuff,” he said. “Defensively, I had a little bit of a groin issue and then my oblique injury. I definitely played through my oblique for a while and it kind of hurt my play.”
Jaso also had a significant drop in his batting average on balls put in play, which can sometimes indicate a bit of bad luck. So, I asked him whether he was hitting the ball the same way as he had in 2010, just not getting the hits.
“I think so,” he said. “I ran into some pretty bad streaks there for a while. I was connecting with some balls and they weren’t falling.”
So, there, with those three reasons, you can see why the Mariners would take the rather low-risk gamble of trading for a catcher with big league experience for the cost of a relief pitcher in Josh Lueke. The Mariners are banking on Jaso being able to rebound.
They are also counting on some of his playoff and pennant race experience. I asked Jaso about that and he told me Jack Zduriencik brought it up in the conversation they had this afternoon once the trade was completed.
“I went through it in the minor leagues and I think that prepares you for it in the big leagues,” Jaso said. “It kind of allows you to breathe a little bit. You got to the playoffs and you’re not intimidated by the whole thing.”
Not that he’s intimidated by much.
“I have a strong feeling inside myself that I can hit,” he said. “I don’t get intimidated when I step into the batter’s box.”
And that’s good news for a Mariners team that needs any hitting improvement it can find.