Utility man Taylor Motter knows he is in a little bit of a honeymoon period with the Mariners.
On Saturday, if you include the brief stint he had in Tampa Bay last season, Motter eclipsed 100 career at-bats in the big leagues.
Needless to say, pitchers don’t really know him — and Motter isn’t all that familiar with them, either.
So why all the early success — with eight extra-base hits in his past four games — heading into the Sunday finale against Texas?
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“It really does not go anymore in depth,” Motter said, “than just seeing the ball, and hitting the ball.”
And Motter has been hitting line drives all over Safeco Field since taking over for shortstop Jean Segura, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list last Tuesday with a hamstring injury.
Motter has two home runs, including a three-run shot Saturday night off Rangers reliever Mike Hauschild in the Mariners’ 5-0 win.
Motter has four doubles, tying him with Mitch Haniger for the most on the club.
In his past 15 at-bats before Sunday, Motter already surpassed his extra-base hit total with the Rays (five in 80 at-bats) in 2016.
“His timing is very good, there is no doubt about that,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He is seeing the ball well. I think he has an understanding of what his pitch is. When he’s getting it, he’s not missing it.”
The 27-year-old Florida native certainly gives Servais lineup options, especially after Segura returns, which is expected to happen this week.
Motter has played nearly 300 games total, including the minors, at all three outfield positions. As a natural shortstop, he has manned all of the infield positions except catcher.
Motter has even pitched in two games — finishing up for a Single-A game with Charlotte in 2013, and last season with the Rays.
On July 1, he came on in the ninth inning of a game Drew Smyly started against Detroit.
The Rays trailed 10-0. With two outs, Motter was summoned from the dugout.
“It was more nerve-racking than my first at-bat in the big leagues,” Motter said. “When I got done with the warmups, I had still one minute, 30 seconds on the clock. … And I had to stand there on the mound and wait for the 1:30 to go by. I had no clue what to do. I felt like everyone was watching me.”
The only instruction he received was to keep his pitches under normal fastball speeds. So he threw changeups in the 75-80 mph range.
He gave up a bloop single to catcher James McCann before getting shortstop Jose Iglesias to fly out to center field to end the inning.
Servais said he is well aware of Motter’s pitching prowess, adding that if Chase de Jong had not been able to finish the last inning of the final game in Houston to start the season, Motter would have taken the hill.
Right now, Motter is OK just swinging the bat.
“I feel comfortable and excited where I am at,” Motter said. “It is a lot different mindset than where I was last year in Tampa. This year, I am ready to go and I am ready to show these guys they made a good decision trading for me and putting me on the opening-day roster.”
Speedy outfielder Jarrod Dyson has been hit three times by pitches in the early going — including Saturday night when a Hauschild slider plunked his foot.
“He is not real happy about getting hit down on his legs,” Servais said. “They are going to pitch him inside. It is pretty apparent how teams are attacking him with fastballs and breaking balls.”
Dyson, who was given a routine day off Sunday, harbors no ill will over being hit so often.
“I am cool with it, man,” Dyson said. “It’s all part of the game. If I had to play today, I’d be in there.”
GETTING A FEEL
One M’s reliever who wasn’t sad to leave Arizona behind was right-hander Nick Vincent.
Vincent, acquired from San Diego last season, gave up five home runs in eight innings, leaving Peoria with a 9.00 ERA.
And in two of his first three regular-season starts at Houston and Los Angeles, he gave up runs in relief.
This week, Vincent has found the feel of his cut fastball, striking out six of the past seven hitters he’s faced — including a clean ninth inning Saturday.
“When you are going to Arizona, the ball isn’t doing what it usually does,” Vincent said. “So then you get to places like Houston, where there is a little bit more moisture, you have to get that ‘touch’ feel again.
“I am just making pitches now, whereas the first two games, I wasn’t.”
Corpus Christi scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, rallying for a 5-4 win Saturday over Arkansas, the Mariners’ Double-A affiliate.
Outfielder Ian Miller and catcher Marcus Littlewood, who was with the Tacoma Rainiers during their PCL playoff run, had two hits apiece in a losing effort. Starting pitcher Tyler Herb struck out 10 hitters in six innings.
It was five years ago Monday — April 17, 2012 — when the Mariners recorded their 25,000th run in franchise history (Justin Smoak scored it), and their 50,000th hit (Kyle Seager).
Segura (hamstring) has started to run inside on the treadmill, but has not cut loose sprinting on the base paths outside. Still, Servais expects his leadoff hitter to return when his 10 days on the DL are up. … Reliever Steve Cishek (hip) left Sunday for a rehab stint with Double-A Arkansas. Servais expects the right-hander to make three or four appearances before the big league team evaluates where he is.
The Mariners jump into interleague play by hosting Miami for a three-game series, starting Monday at Safeco Field.
Left-hander Ariel Miranda (0-1, 5.06 ERA) will kick things off for Seattle. Right-hander Tom Koehler (0-0, 3.27 ERA) goes for the Marlins. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers of MLB.tv).