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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

July 13, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Mike Zunino appears to be safeguarding the basepaths for Mariners

The Mariners will try to win their series against the Angels tonight, sending Felix Hernandez to the mound to face a team he blew an 8-1 lead against last month in Anaheim.

The Mariners will try to win their series against the Angels tonight, sending Felix Hernandez to the mound to face a team he blew an 8-1 lead against last month in Anaheim.

Mariners catcher Mike Zunino has hit just .235 since arriving in the big leagues. But considering he’s playing about six days out of every seven, the Mariners will gladly take that total.

Zunino has shown an ability to play every day without his skills diminishing. We didn’t always see that last year with Jesus Montero or John Jaso.

“I like what I see,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s handled all the pitchers fine, he’s thrown the ball well, blocks the ball very well, works hard. He’s getting a better feel for our pitchers in regard to calling a game. And he’s getting experience to the league. Those are all positives.”

As for the difference between Zunino and Montero and Jaso before him, Wedge said: “I don’t think they were conditioned like Mike is. That’s the thing. Being conditioned to play every day. He is.”

So far, Zunino has thrown out two of nine would-be base-stealers — including Mike Trout last night — for a 22 percent success rate that is just below the league average of 25 percent. But there are more to the numbers than just those, something that hints at a possible deterrent effect.

Opponents are attempting only 0.44 steals per game since Zunino’s June 12 arrival. Prior to it, they had attempted 0.803 steals per contest.

So, they are trying to steal roughly half as much as before.

Now, part of that could be explained by the team’s they are playing and the so-called “sample size.” Perhaps the pitching staff — knowing there’s a rookie catcher back there — is also making a more concerted effort to watch the runners.

But maybe there is a deterrent happening here, sort of like the good cornerbacks in football who don’t get the big interception totals because no one wants to throw their way. Whatever the reason, opponents are stealing only 0.33 bases per game since Zunino’s arrival, while grabing an average of 0.67 per game beforehand.

In other news, Stephen Pryor threw a second simulated game today and could be ready to head out on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Class A Everett during the All-Star Break. Dustin Ackley and Franklin Gutierrez hit against him today.

The Mariners are going to see how Gutierrez feels tomorrow and then discuss whether to send him out on a rehabilitation assignment as well. Michael Morse is still feeling sore in his quad muscle and not yet ready to go out to the minors just yet.

Comments | More in pregame | Topics: mike zunino; eric wedge; stephen pryor; franklin gutierrez


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