Tacoma Rainiers fans might have noticed a new but familiar face in the Rainiers’ dugout during last week’s homestand. Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez was in uniform, helping the Tacoma hitters.
It’s a new role for the member of the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, who retired after the 2004 season with a lifetime average of .312 and 2,247 career hits.
“I go around and visit the minor league teams, spend four or five days with the team and help the players with hitting,” Martinez said.
After 10 years of retirement, Martinez decided it was time to get involved in the game again.
“I had too much time on my hands,” Martinez said with a laugh. “I always wanted to get back to the game. Right now my family is busy, my wife is working, my kids are all in school and they’re old enough where I can travel more. It’s a good time for me to do it.”
Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but the Rainiers’ offense perked up and the team went 3-1 against New Orleans with Edgar in the dugout. Tacoma scored 27 runs and hit .304 with six home runs in the four-game series.
Perhaps the Mariners should immediately send Edgar to Bakersfield.
The team’s Advanced-A affiliate in the California League is having a terrible time trying to score runs, despite playing in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league.
Bakersfield is averaging just 3.5 runs per game, with a total of 188 runs scored in 54 contests. That’s not even remotely close to the second-worst offense in the league: San Jose plays in a pitcher’s park and has scored 224 runs, averaging 4.1 runs per game.
With a team batting average of .222, Bakersfield is 23 points behind ninth-ranked San Jose. The team ranks last in the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and when they do get a base runner it’s not always good: the team has hit into the second-most double plays in the circuit.
Three players on the club with more than 100 plate appearances have sub-.200 batting averages, including highly regarded outfield prospect Austin Wilson (.194 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 42 games).
The lack of offense has spoiled good pitching by the club, which has a 3.99 ERA — fourth-best in the league. Bakersfield was 20-34 going into Saturday’s game.
Former Rainiers reliever Brian Moran pitched two scoreless innings for Bakersfield on Friday, marking the end of a long, circuitous path.
Moran struck out 85 batters in 622/3 innings with a 3.45 ERA for Tacoma in 2013, and after the season he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
Moran tore the ligament in his pitching elbow during 2014 spring training, and spent the entire season recovering from Tommy John surgery. At the end of the season, the Angels returned him to the Mariners rather than keep him on their 40-man roster, per Rule 5 Draft rules.
His appearance on Friday was his first live action in an official game since August 28, 2013.