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March 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Jason Bay as a leadoff guy? The Mariners are taking a look

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Jason Bay says he isn’t as surprised as others that his name this morning is pencilled in atop the Mariners lineup for a second day in a row. The Mariners are taking a look at leadoff candidates and want to see what Bay can do.

“I think everybody else thinks it’s a little more novel than I actually do,” Bay said.

Well, there were those 1,200-plus MLB games in which he’d never hit leadoff before. Then again, Bay has done it in spring training. Right?…um, right, Mr. Bay?

“I think I have,” he said, backtracking from an earlier assertion. “I know I’ve hit second a bunch of times.”

Ah, but second is not first. Just ask the 49’ers post Super Bowl.

In any event, Bay says he’s got the formula for leading off figured out pretty well.

“It’s going to be the same as if I’m hitting fourth, fifth, or eighth,” he said. “I’m just going to be doing the same thing.”

As to what the Mariners see in him as having leadoff potential, Bay is pretty much on the same page with manager Eric Wedge, who yesterday mentioned the quality of his at-bats. Bay is pretty pleased with how his spring has gone so far, largely because he’s attained some early results at the plate to reinforce the work he’s done behind the scenes.

“I think most guys would say they’d rather feel uncomfortable and get results than feel comfortable and be going ‘Ah! I’m almost there!’,” Bay said. “Nobody wants to hear that. You want results. So, it was nice to get some immediate results to just kind of tell me ‘OK, I can stick with that.’ Rather than be worrying about ‘I need to make this team’ or ‘I need to do this, or do that’ and ‘What else do I need to do?’ That’s just human nature. I’ve been comfortable up to this point just putting my nose down and doing it.”

The comfort level he describes is all about the timing of his swing and his ability to connect so squarely with pitches this early.

“I’m surprised with how comfortable I’ve been early on,” he said. “Usually in spring training — whether I’m doing really well or haven’t done so well — spring training has always been where the first couple of weeks I’ve been a big timing guy. You can bust your butt all winter but you can’t simulate the timing. And that’s the one thing where I work really on just the swing and getting that down to where ‘OK, I feel good about that.’

“But you don’t know how that’s going to translate to game situations. And then, the last thing you want to do is get out there for a week or two and say to yourself ‘OK, I know this is working, but I have to get the timing down.’ Because then, that sets off a whole chain reaction where you go ‘OK, what else do I need to be doing?’ It’s about results.”

Bay didn’t get any results in his first leadoff stint yesterday, going 0-for-3 against Arizona. But Wedge has him back atop the lineup for this afternoon’s tilt against the Royals in Surprise, Ariz.

“I guess I’ve got to show them better than I did yesterday,” Bay quipped.

Bay did look like a leadoff hitter in nearly beating out two ground balls for infield hit. His deceptive speed forced Arizona’s infielders to make some tough plays both times. I asked Bay about his speed, since he’s been plagued by knee problems in the past. Don’t forget, he did play several games in center field for the Pirates at one point years back, so he isn’t exactly Jesus Montero with his feet.

“I changed the diet a bit, so I’m about two, or three or four pounds lighter,” Bay said. “I’ve always kind of been…I’m not fast, but sneaky I guess. When you look at guys who are standing in the box, you’ll someties think ‘This guy’s pretty fast, I’ve got to be quick (to throw him out). But I seem to get the benefit of the doubt where guys think they can take a little more time. I kind of bust my butt down the line because probably once every year or two, I’ll get a base hit where I hit a routine ground ball and the (fielder) guy is like ‘One…two…oh, dang!’ ”

So, there you have it. Bay isn’t exactly a prototypical leadoff guy. Then again, the Mariners don’t have any of those. In fact, Bay, who has played for the Pirates, Red Sox and Mets over his 11 seasons, can’t recall any of those squads going with a non-prototypical speed-on-base type up top. But it is what it is. The Mariners don’t appear sold on Dustin Ackley as a leadoff guy, want to make his life easier as he tries to re-start his career and are shopping around for a potential No. 1 replacement.

While some people don’t put a whole lot of stock into where guys bat in the order, teams actually do. They know that players — especially young ones — will often put more pressure on themselves and adapt their performance depending on their batting slot. So, this is one attempt by the M’s to try to head that one off when it comes to Ackley.

We’ve seen Franklin Gutierrez get some looks up top. Now, it’s Bay’s turn.

March 13, 2013 – Surprise Stadium

Seattle Mariners (11-6)

 

Kansas City Royals (13-2-1)

No.

Player Pos.  

No.

Player Pos.

12

Jason Bay LF  

4

Alex Gordon (L) LF

15

Kyle Seager (L) 3B  

80

Elliot Johnson (S) SS

38

Michael Morse 1B  

16

Billy Butler 1B

28

Raul Ibañez (L) DH  

8

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

55

Michael Saunders (L) CF  

13

Salvador Perez C

7

Kelly Shoppach C  

21

Jeff Francoeur DH

4

Carlos Peguero (L) RF  

6

Lorenzo Cain CF

3

Robert Andino SS  

32

Endy Chavez (L) RF

1

Carlos Triunfel 2B  

17

Chris Getz (L) 2B

Starting Pitcher

Starting Pitcher

18

Hisashi Iwakuma RHP  

54

Ervin Santana RHP

 

Extra Pitchers:

41        Charlie Furbush…………………….. LHP

46        Stephen Pryor………………………. RHP

52        Jhonny Nunez………………………. RHP

54        Tom Wilhelmsen……………………. RHP

60        Danny Hultzen………………………. LHP

90        George Mieses*…………………….. RHP

93        Matt Brazis*…………………………. RHP

94        Dominic Leone*…………………….. RHP

 

Infielders:

35        Mike Jacobs (L)………………………. 1B

36        Vinnie Catricala………………………. INF

61        Nick Franklin (S)…………………….. INF

77        Brad Miller (L)………………………… INF

 

Outfielders:

10        Eric Thames (L)………………………. OF

66        Francisco Martinez………………….. OF

76        Julio Morban (L)……………………… OF

 

Catchers:

2         Jesus Sucre…………………………….. C

5         Mike Zunino…………………………….. C

9         John Hicks………………………………. C

27        Ronny Paulino………………………….. C

63        Jesus Montero…………………………. C

 

 

 

Comments | More in spring training | Topics: Dustin Ackley, eric wedge, Jason Bay

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