Mariners notebook: Function, not fashion for James Jones

Staff writerMay 13, 2014 

Let’s talk fashion.

About that high-stirrup look that Mariners rookie center fielder James Jones sports? It’s not a style statement or a hat-tip to tradition or the game’s golden era.

It’s much more practical.

“It’s hard for me to find pants that really fit well,” Jones said, “because I’m really lanky. The baggy look doesn’t look good on me. So I’ll just go with the high stirrups.”

So far, Jones looks just fine in uniform.

He went 2-for-5 in Monday’s 12-5 victory over Tampa Bay, which boosted his average to .391 for his eight games. Add three walks and his on-base percentage jumps to .462.

“He’s a high-energy kid,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He brings a lot of intangibles to the table, not to mention his speed and defense. He gets after it pretty good. I think he energizes the rest of the (lineup).”

APPLYING THE HAMMER

First baseman Justin Smoak and third baseman Kyle Seager rank among the major league leaders in hitting the ball hard in computations by Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Info.

Smoak ranks fourth among all players in hitting balls hard 24.4 percent of the time, while Seager is seventh at 24.0 percent. The major league average among nonpitchers is about 17 percent. Designated hitter Corey Hart ranks 31st at 20.2 percent.

The leader is Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at 28.3, followed by Boston designated hitter David Ortiz (25.8) and Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (24.7).

Simon also cites the players who hit the ball softly most often. The only Mariner in the top 45 is second baseman Robinson Cano, who ranks 24th at 51.0 percent of the time. The leader is Angels shortstop Erick Aybar at 65.3.

Even Simon acknowledges it’s a subjective stat. The evaluations are made by video review, and all contact is rated as hard hit, medium hit or soft hit.

INJURY UPDATES

Neither left-hander James Paxton (strained back muscle) nor righty Taijuan Walker (sore shoulder) reported any day-after problems following bullpen workouts Sunday as the latest step in their recovery programs.

Plans call for both to throw again before Wednesday’s game. Sunday was Walker’s first test from a mound; Paxton threw for the second time. Both are tentatively slotted for simulated games after three bullpen workouts.

If no problems surface after two simulated games, Paxton and Walker will continue their recovery on a minor league rehab assignment.

Outfielder Michael Saunders remains slowed by a hyper-extended left knee, which he suffered after he tripped and fell while chasing a fly ball. His availability is likely to be limited for the three games against the Rays.

Outfielder/designated hitter Logan Morrison should be testing his recovery from a strained right hamstring this week by running the bases. Once judged healthy, he will likely require a minor league rehab assignment.

PLAY THEM CLOSE

So how rare was Monday’s blowout for the Mariners? The seven-run margin matched their largest of the season — they bat the Angles 10-3 on March 31 in the season opener.

Even so, the Mariners have played more games, 27, decided by three runs or fewer than any American League team. They are 14-13 in those games.

MINOR DETAILS

Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers infielder Nick Franklin entered the week leading the Pacific Coast League with a .388 average.

Franklin also ranked third in on-base percentage at .470, second in slugging percentage at .673 and second in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at 1.143.

He had seven homers and 25 RBIs in 25 games for the Rainiers.

Franklin spent eight days last month in the majors but had just two hits in 16 at-bats in seven games. He also struck out six times.

LOOKING BACK

It was 13 years ago Tuesday — May 13, 2001 — that Edgar Martinez became the second player in franchise history to score 1,000 runs. Ken Griffey Jr. reached the milestone in 1999.

Martinez crossed home plate for the 1,000th time in the first inning of a 7-5 victory at Toronto when he scored from second base on a two-out single by Bret Boone against Esteban Loaiza at Skydome (now known as Rogers Centre).

Martinez would finish his 18-year career, all with the Mariners, in 2004 with 1,219 runs. That remains the franchise record. Ichiro Suzuki is second with 1,176, followed by Griffey at 1,113.

SHORT HOPS

The Mariners are showing some interest in veteran outfielder Xavier Nady, who became a free agent after refusing an outright assignment to the minors. ... Robinson Cano has reached base safely at least once in 21 straight games. Prior to Monday, the only longer streaks in the majors were Boston first baseman Mike Napoli with 31 and Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis with 22. ... Outfielder Cole Gillespie jumped over the Mendoza Line prior to the game. An error on an April 25 play was changed by Major League Baseball to a single. That raised his average fro .167 to .222 (4-for-18). He then singled in his only at-bat Monday and is now batting .263. ... Tampa Bay lefty David Price, who starts Tuesday, has never pitched in Seattle. The Rays have played 21 games at Safeco with Price on the roster.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rays continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday with a marquee pitching matchup as Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 2.73 ERA) goes against Tampa Bay lefty Price (3-3, 4.53). Root Sports will broadcast the game. The series concludes at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday. After an open date Thursday, the Mariners hit the road for three games at Minnesota and two at Texas.

bob.dutton@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

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