ADDITIONAL NOTE: Be sure to join me at 8 a.m. PT for Talkin’ Baseball with Mitch Levy on Sports Radio KJR.
We’ve got a real early 9:05 a.m. PT start time today, so Mariners manager Eric Wedge held his pregame chat first thing this morning and it almost felt like we were back in spring training. Wedge said his players have to be aware of the fact they’ve played tough in five of the six games on this trip thus far — up until yesterday — and could have won each of those despite having a 2-4 record.
Wedge was asked about his team’s performance with runners in scoring position and he said that improvement in this area would indeed turn some of these close losses into wins. It being a dull Monday morning and all, I could not resist asking Wedge about his thoughts on hitting with runners in scoring position. As you may know, for years, many have attempted to quantify whether such hitting is indeed a skill, or whether it boils down mainly to luck.
The Mariners are batting .239 overall and .209 with runners in scoring position.
I know exactly how Wedge feels about it, since he mentions runners in scoring position hitting very often. But just for fun, I asked Wedge to spell out exactly what it takes to hit in such situations and whether he subscribes at all to the “luck” theory. It’s an interesting answer he gave — regardless of where you fall on the whole RISP thing — because I think it reminds us once again that no matter how many numbers we try to crunch, these are still human beings playing the game and subject to all types of variables we will never be ale to entirely quantify.
“It’s just different,” he said. “Those same (luck theory) people argue that the ninth inning is the same as the seventh and eighth inning. It’s different. If I have to explain it to you, then you don’t understand. I can’t. I don’t have enough time to explain it to you, because if you don’t know, then you don’t know. And you’re never going to know. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it and you’re not going to get it.
“The ninth inning is different because we’re human beings and we’re not widgets. OK? It’s no different than when you’re doing regular human being things and your heatbeat speeds up a bit from the things that you’re doing in regular life. That’s what happens with these guys when they’re playing and millions of people are watching and there are 30,000 people in the stands.
“So, it’s a situation where it’s a little bit more important. You know the outcome’s going to be more important. So, you feel that. So, it takes some time to be a clutch hitter. It takes time — more time than not — to end up being a closer. But that’s what you love about the game, too, as far as I’m concerned. The human element, as far as I’m concerned. The success and the failures that you have in this game are more extreme than you have in other sports.
“One, because you play it every day and two because there is just more failure in this sport. That’s why the human element and the heartbeat and everything is such a big factor.”
In other news, Aaron Harang appears good to go for tomorrow night’s start, though the team has yet to officially confirm it.
Wedge was asked about Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Hultzen and said it’s going to take substantial time for both to recover from their shoulder injuries. Neither is to the point yet, Wedge added, where the team can hope to count on them being added to the major league squad this season. That may change as their rehab progresses, but for now, the Mariners are not counting on it yet.
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