It might be telling that Dan Vogelbach, on his first day as a big leaguer, pointed out that it’s "awesome" that he’s joining the Mariners amid a postseason push.
He likes that word "awesome" by the way.
"We’re three games out of the playoffs," he said prior to Monday’s series opener against the Angels. "I get to come up and play playoff baseball. That’s awesome to me to be put on a team that has put itself in position to make the playoffs."
The Mariners, as expected, promoted Vogelbach, infielder Mike Freeman and right-handed pitcher Cody Martin from the Triple-A Tacoma after the Rainiers’ season ended Saturday in a loss to El Paso in the Pacific Coast League playoffs.
For Vogelbach, who openly proclaims his competitive nature, the Rainiers getting eliminated still rankles.
"I don’t like to lose," he declared. "I’m a competitor not just in baseball but in anything. I don’t like to lose if it’s in the front yard with my family. That’s how I’ve been my whole life."
An opportunity now awaits at the big leagues.
It didn’t start well.
Vogelbach batted in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter and grounded into a force at second. He then missed second base in going from fritst to third on Kyle Seager’s single — which turned into a force at second and took a single away from Seager.
“I said, `Your first major-league game will certainly be memorable,” manager Scott Servais noted after the 8-1 victory over the Angels. “You’ll never forget it, and you’ll never miss a base again. He said, `You’ve got that right.’”
There figure to be more chances.
Vogelbach, 23, is a left-handed-hitting first baseman/designated hitter, and he arrived one day after the man he projects to eventually replace, Adam Lind, suffered a sprained right index finger in Sunday’s 3-2 victory at Oakland.
Servais said Lind’s finger is swollen.
"It could be three or four days," Servais said. "There is some significant swelling. It’s going to be tough to grip a bat for a couple of days."
Servais opted to start Dae-Ho Lee, a right-handed hitter, on Monday against Los Angeles right-hander Ricky Nolasco because: "If you look at the numbers, which I tend to, Nolasco has gotten the lefties out better than the righties."
But Vogelbach is likely to start Tuesday when the Mariners face another right-hander in Alex Meyer. Vogelbach is also in line for more than token action over the final three weeks.
"We’ll break him in," Servais said, "give him an opportunity and see what we’ve got. The biggest thing for him is we just want him to get comfortable. It’s his first time in the big leagues."
Vogelbach, prior to the game, sought to do just that.
"This is a dream come true, isn’t it?" he asked as he surveyed Angel Stadium. "As a kid, this is what you dream of. It’s been a long road, and I wouldn’t have wanted to change it in any way. I’ve learned a lot as I came through the minors."
But it wasn’t until July 20 that Vogelbach, in his sixth pro season, had a viable route to the big leagues. A trade that day brought him and pitcher Paul Blackburn to the Mariners from the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Mike Montgomery.
Before that, Vogelbach was blocked. The Cubs had Anthony Rizzo anchored at first base and, as an National League club, no opportunity to shift Vogelbach to duty as a designated hitter.
Vogelbach said he quickly found a comfort zone at Tacoma and finished out his Triple-A season with a .292 average and a .417 on-base percentage in 133 games with 23 homers and 96 RBIs.
"Dan Vogelbach can really hit," general manager Jerry Dipoto said in announcing the trade. "He’s hit at every level he’s ever been. He rakes. He rakes everywhere he’s ever been. He’s an elite strike-zone controller with above average power."
When traded, Vogelbach recognized the opportunity for what it was.
"I made friends in Chicago who are going to be friends for a lifetime," he said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than they gave me out of high school. That organization was really good to me.
"But there was an obstacle there with Rizzo, who was nothing but good to me. When the trade first happened…you don’t really like it when things happen and you don’t know what’s going to happen (next)."
Vogelbach said he trusted his faith.
"I have a good relationship with God," he said, "and I know that God won’t lead me to a place that isn’t the right place. It’s been the best month-and-a-half that I’ve had in pro ball.
"It was an easy transition with the guys in Tacoma, the coaching staff was awesome. The team was awesome."
That word again.
Now just touch all the bases.
One reason for the Mariners’ recent postseason push? They lead the majors in scoring in September at 7.1 runs a game prior to Monday’s series opener against the Angels.
The Mariners are 7-3 since the calendar turned with five straight victories. They are batting .311 as a team with 18 homers plus a .383 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage.
Nelson Cruz is leading the way with a .341 average plus three homers and 10 RBIs. Kyle Seager is batting .342 with three homers and six RBIs. Dae-Ho Lee has driven in seven runs, while four other players have six RBIs.
Lagging, so far, is second baseman Robinson Cano, who carried a 1-for-16 skid into Monday’s game. He is batting .263 for the month with two homers and three RBIs.
Jackson outfielder Tyler O’Neill was picked as the Double-A player of the year by Baseball America after batting .293 with 24 homers and 102 RBIs in 130 games.
O’Neill, 21, was also picked by the magazine to its All Double-A team. He was the Mariners’ third-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Two other Mariners prospects were cited by Baseball America in its classification all-star teams.
Vogelbach was picked as the Triple-A first baseman, and Clinton right-hander Nick Neidert was chosen to the All Lo-A team after going 7-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 19 starts for the LumberKings.
Neidert, 19, was a second-round pick in 2015.
It was 20 years ago Tuesday — Sept. 13, 1996 — that Alex Rodriguez became the first player in franchise history to collect 200 hits in a season.
Just 20 at the time, Rodriguez reached the milestone with a first-inning single against Travis Miller in a 13-7 victory over the Twins at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Rodriguez finished the year with 215, which would be his career high, and won his only batting title with a .358 average.
The Mariners and Angels continue their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (5-10 with a 4.64 ERA) will faced Los Angeles right-hander Alex Meyer (0-2, 7.71).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners