Ty France Rakes, Mitch Haniger Makes a Strong Return in Mariners Spring Training

Photo Credit: Mick Haupt

The Mariners are off to a mediocre Spring Training record with two wins, four losses, and four ties. Of course, it’s not worth evaluating the team this way but it creates a fun look at some of the players in buildup to the regular season. Some players are warming up for their return while others are looking to make a statement so that they get called up for their very own chance.

Third baseman Ty France has broken out quite nicely. He’ll be returning likely as a Designated Hitter this year since both corner infield positions are filled, but his bat is still electric. In his 13 at bats this year, he’s gotten eight hits, including two doubles and three home runs. He has not struck out yet. His OPS (on base percentage + slugging) of 2.128 is good for eighth in the MLB right now, but everyone above him has inflated stats due to a lack of opportunities.

Catcher Tom Murphy and outfielder Mitch Haniger are finally back in business. Murphy’s 3-16 spring training leaves a bit to be desired, but two of those hits were doubles. Haniger has gone 4-13 with two doubles and a home run in a truly exciting return to action. Utility player Dylan Moore will look to keep up his hot streak from last year, going 4-14 with a homer thus far.

Third baseman Kyle Seager has gone 5-10 with four walks, in what will hopefully be a continuation of his 2020 return to all-star form. Shortstop J.P. Crawford has also walked an impressive five times, although his hitting portfolio otherwise has been lackluster. First baseman Evan White will hope to build upon his impressive defense with actually getting on base, but that hasn’t come to fruition in his 1-12 Spring Training performance. Outfielder Kyle Lewis is returning off a rookie of the year performance, going 4-11 with a double and a triple so far.

The returning players are surrounded by new players, eager for their chance. Outfielder Julio Rodriguez has kicked off spring training with a 4-14 performance. While fellow outfielder Jarred Kelenic is currently out with a knee strain, he made a splash with a home run in the first televised Spring Training game. Catcher Cal Raleigh and shortstop Donovan Walton are both fighting for spots on the roster, putting up acceptable performances. Outfielder Jake Fraley wants another chance as well and has walked an impressive five times despite being 0-15 otherwise. Shortstop Jack Reinheimer has been a big pleasant surprise this year, getting off to a 3-9 start with a home run and three walks added on.

Meanwhile, the pitching is harder to evaluate due to the spring training rules leading to less innings pitched, but I doubt the news would be that good otherwise. The top of the rotation has looked decent enough. Yusei Kikuchi, Marco Gonzales and Justin Dunn have all looked solid. The bottom rotation spots are likely being fought for by a number of candidates, of which Ljay Newsome has emerged as a solid option. Justus Sheffield has been abysmal thus far, allowing six runs in under five innings.

Newly acquired relief pitcher Will Vest had a fun optimistic article published by the Athletic, which he quickly demolished by allowing eight runs in four innings. Prospective closer Rafael Montero has allowed three runs in his sole inning, a line identical to that of Brandon Brennan who likely wants to return from injury.

It’s been slightly upsetting, to say the least. You can’t decide a season’s success based on Spring Training, but the pitching is likely going up against other players who are trying to get a shot of their own so who knows how they’ll perform against actual Major League players. Allowing 17 runs to the Texas Rangers of all teams is not ideal, but the season is almost upon us and speculation will be at an end.