March 1, 2013 at 4:35 PM
Mulling over the Mariners’ new-found power
As a sportswriter once famously (and facetiously) asked, does “juggernaut” have one ‘g’ or two?
OK, it’s a little too soon to crown the Mariners – way too soon, in fact — but we can at least start to wonder if they aren’t who we thought they were.
The M’s rolled to their seventh straight win today, 8-6, over the Texas Rangers in Peoria. And once again, they did it with the long ball. This time, they blasted four homers – by Carlos Peguero, Jason Bay, Michael Saunders and Michael Morse, the latter hitting his first of spring.
OK, time to reel it back in, with all the usual cautions: This is spring training, where stats mean nothing and victories mean less. But to manager Eric Wedge, it beats the alternative.
“We’re out here obviously to get ready for the season, but we’re also out here to compete,’’ Wedge said. “If you’re going to play the game, you play to win. I like what’s happening with the guys who are starting, but also the way we’re finishing games. There are a lot of young people here with a lot of ability, and it’s really starting to show itself.”
It’s hard not to notice Peguero, who hit his third homer of the spring and also singled in addition to striking out twice. The whiffs are what he needs to cut down, obviously, if he wants to become a major leaguer. He has fanned four times in 13 at-bats, but has six hits for a .462 average, and made two nice defensive plays today.
I know people are starting to wonder if Peguero can work his way into the outfield battle that has been pegged as Bay vs. Casper Wells. I’d say it’s still an extreme longshot, but when I posed that question to Wedge, he said: “We’ve got competition all over the place. We’re not counting anyone out. We feel we have 61 players here in camp that are all good enough to be in the big leagues. You can’t say that with each year. You look at our spring training and what we’ve rolled out from the first year to last year to this year, it’s considerably different.”
Bay certainly is helping his chances. In addition to hitting his second homer today, he had a walk and single. He’s 3-for-6 with three walks this spring and says he can feel his stroke, and confidence, coming back.
“I’m quite pleased that all the work I did in the offseason and here is translating,’’ Bay said. “I spent a few years searching for that magic spot. I kind of lost it. It’s nice to have that reinforcement that what Im doing is working. Now it’s just repetition and keep doing it.’’
Bay put a realistic spin on the Mariners’ power barrage.
“We were just kind of joking about that – we’re setting ourselves up. I don’t think it’s a conscious effort. Early on, we’re getting good swings and balls are going out. I don’t think that’s the way all the games are going to go.
”More than anything, for a lot of guys it’s nice to get off to a nice start, hit some balls well, and go from there – myself included, for sure. When you’re working on getting some timing, results are kind of secondary. At the same time, as a competitor, it still matters. You want to do well, and get your work in. It’s almost a little unrealistic how it’s been going, but it’s not by accident. Guys put their time in. I just think it’s a little foolish to think it’s going to happen every single game, but we’ll take it right now.”