Carlos Peguero has joined the Mariners yet again, though it will likely be a brief stay until Michael Saunders is ready to rejoin the team. Franklin Gutierrez will have an MRI on Thursday in Seattle to determine the extent of his hamstring injury, but it doesn’t sound like this is going to be a speedy recovery.
There are two reasons the Mariners called up Peguero over Eric Thames, who is crushing the ball in Class AAA right now: defense and plate patience.
Now, now, before some of you throw your Fielding Bibles at me, let me attempt to explain. I don’t know, nor do I care what the weekly Ultimate Zone Ratings were for both players but I can tell you they probably aren’t great for either guy.
What likely sealed this deal was some of the defense Thames displayed last year during an extended second-half look with the Mariners after the trade from Toronto. Simply put, Thames did not look at all sure of himself in the outfield and actually appeared not to be going full out after every ball hit his way. That’s just the impression I was left with from watching him, so I can imagine what his manager felt.
And I don’t have to wonder what Eric Wedge feels about Thames and his defense because he offered this up in his description of both players a short time ago.
“We talked about Eric as well, but I just felt like we were better off with Carlos in the outfield defensively, on the basepaths as well,” Wedge said. “Of course, when he steps up to home plate, he’s always a threat.”
Wedge said Thames has made some defensive progress.
“He’s workng hard at it,” he said. “It’s not something that happens overnight. You have to work hard at it with your pregame and your reps. It’s the same thing on the basepaths. Those are things you have to work hard at. With the baserunning, obviously, you have to be on base to get an opportunity to work on it ut he’s been swinging the bat well, so that bodes well for him, too.”
As for Peguero, here’s how Wedge sees him.
“Well, you know what, he’s a big strong player, a good athlete,” Wedge said. “A lot of power. He’s a pretty good outfielder, a pretty good baserunner. Runs pretty good for a big guy, so, he has some experience up here. So, he’s still trying to be the player that he’s ultimately capable of being. He’s a work in progress. So, we’re very familliar with him.”
I asked Wedge about Peguero’s improved walk rate in AAA and whether he’s carried over some of what we saw in spring training. Wedge’s eyes lit up at this and you can tell the Mariners are hoping to see a more polished-looking Peguero this time around.
Clearly, Peguero has the raw power. The problem is, he’s never been able to make contact enough to really take advantage of it. More plate discipline was needed. Wedge said he spoke to AAA Tacoma Rainiers manager Daren Brown about that today.
“He’s really been working hard with (hitting instructor) Howard Johnson down there at being more disciplined,” Wedge said. “They’re working to not chase outside of the zone. You want to take those walks. It’s as much about being willing to take those walks as anything. Because as big as he is and as strong as he is, he does scare people outside of the zone. If you chase, it kind of defeats the purpose. So, he has been better at it.”
Peguero said he made it a priority this spring to focus on his plate discipline.
“i understood myself and what I had to do, what I’m capable of,” he said. “And what I had to do to make an adjustment. To recognize me, myself, and not try to do too much.”
In the end, Peguero might not get all that much time to show a new approach. Saunders felt the best he has yet in taking batting practice yesterday and he’s eligible to come off the DL as early as Friday.
The team probably won’t force the issue, though. Neither will Saunders, who learned his lesson in the second half of las season when he tried to rush back to quickly from a groin injury and had to leave a game four innings in after chasing down a routine fly ball.
“It’s one of those things where I’ve got to make sure I don’t injure it any further,” he said. “And if I do go out there and play, I have to play to the ability where I actually help the club. That’s what’s important. I can’t rush back and be more of a disservice to the club by not being able to perform to the best of my abilities.”
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