SEATTLE — It isn’t hard to identify the chief cause of Adam Lind’s season-long slump: He is swinging at 39.1 percent of the pitches that aren’t strikes, according to numbers compiled by www.Fangraphs.com.
That number, not surprisingly, is the worst percentage on the Mariners and explains why Lind is hitting coach Edgar Martinez’s current top priority. Lind entered the weekend with a .213 average, one homer and five RBIs in 27 games.
"When you swing at that many pitches out of the strike zone," Mariners manager Scott Servais said, "your timing is late. You’re late getting to the hitting position. I think that’s what he’s working on with Edgar.
"He’s trying to get there early enough to recognize fastball, breaking ball, ball/strike. That’s what good hitters do. He’ll figure it out."
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Lind has always chased pitches outside of the zone; his career rate is 31.4 percent, but the upward spike is alarming, particularly since he is seeing, roughly, the same percentage of strikes as throughout his 11-year career.
The Mariners acquired Lind, 32, from Milwaukee in an off-season trade for three minor-league pitchers because they liked his career-long production against right-handed pitchers: a .291/.351/.502 slash.
The club-wide line is it’s just a matter if time before that guy reemerges.
"This guy was one of the 10 best hitters versus righted-hand pitchers in baseball over the last three years," general manager Jerry Dipoto said. "He’s not going to continue to go like he’s going."
This much seems certain: Lind will continue to get opportunities.
"I think the entire (upcoming) road trip is all right-handed pitching," Servais said. "We go into hitter-friendly parks in Baltimore and Cincinnati, hopefully that helps.
"He’s going to be a big part of our offense. He’s too good not to. The track record and what he’s done in this league says all it needs to say. We’ll get him going. I feel good about it. He’s the one guy who hasn’t quite clicked yet.
BULLPEN INJURY UPDATES
Three injured relievers all take the next step Saturday in their rehab process.
Right-hander Joaquin Benoit (shoulder inflammation) and lefty Charlie Furbush (shoulder biceps tendinitis) will pitch a simulated inning against hitters, while right-hander Tony Zych (rotator cuff tendinitis) will begin playing catch.
The Mariners’ bullpen, which entered the weekend ranked second in the majors with a 2.34 ERA, could be about the get even stronger.
"I couldn’t be any happier with the job our bullpen has done," Servais said, "and I’m also excited about getting Benoit back, too. That really does solidify the whole thing."
If all goes well, Benoit should be activated for Tuesday’s series opener at Baltimore, while Furbish’s next step could be to head to Arizona to begin an innings-building routine in extended spring training.
Barring setbacks, Furbush could be ready to rejoin the active roster by the end of the month. He has pitched in a major-league game in more than 10 months.
Zych’s recovery is still in the early stages. He will likely play catch a few times before progressing through a throwing program that includes bullpen workouts, a simulated inning and, perhaps, a rehab assignment in the minors.
If opposing clubs stay with their projected rotations, the Mariners will face just one left-handed starting pitcher — Hector Santiago in Sunday’s series finale against the Angels — over their next 11 games.
Servais is already acknowledging he’ll adjust his two platoon situations to get some playing time for right-handed-hitters Franklin Gutierrez and Dae-Ho Lee.
"We’ll try to get them a day in there somewhere," Servais said. "Get the best match-up to get Dae-Ho in there; get Guti in there.
"I don’t want to have them down for that many consecutive days without playing. You lose anything you’ve got going. Guti is starting to swing the bat better, and Dae-Ho has been pretty consistent, but you want to keep it going."
Don’t look for right-hander Andrew Moore to remain much longer at Hi-A Bakersfield, where he has a 2.32 ERA in seven starts.
Dipoto said there is "a very good likelihood" that Moore will see a "shift in location before too long. He's performing his way out of that league." That presumably means a promotion to Double-A Jackson.
The Mariners selected Moore, 21, with the 60th overall pick in last year’s draft.
It was 20 years ago Saturday — May 14, 1996 — that New York right-hander Dwight Gooden pitched a no-hitter against the Mariners in a 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Gooden issued six walks, including two in the ninth inning when the Mariners put runners at second and third with one out. He then struck out Jay Buhner and retired Paul Sorrento on a pop to rookie shortstop Derek Jeter.
It was the second of three no-hitters against the Mariners in their 40-year history. California’s Mark Langston and Mike Witt pitched a combined no-hitter in 1990, and Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox pitched a perfect game in 2012.
The Padres designated outfielder Jabari Blash for assignment. As a Rule 5 pick, if he clears waivers, Blash must be offered back to the Mariners for $25,000 before he can be sent to the minors…former Mariners reliever Joe Beimel signed with Miami and is heading to extended spring training to get into game condition…The Angels’ insistence on playing home games at night on getaway days during the week has long been a sore spot with other clubs. On this occasion, a night game Thursday against St. Louis resulted in the Angels landing in Seattle at 3:33 a.m.
The Mariners and Angels continue their three-game series at 6:10 p.m. Saturday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (1-4 with a 4.19 ERA) will face right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, whom the Angels acquired Wednesday from Atlanta. Chacin was 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for the Braves.
The game can be seen on Roost Sports Northwest and heard in 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
SWINGING AT PITCHES OUTSIDE THE STRIKE ZONE
Player Percentage of swings outside of the zone
Chris Iannetta 18.4
Nori Aoki 22.7
Seth Smith 24.3
Kyle Seager 24.7
Steve Clevenger 25.0
Franklin Gutierrez 26.2
Nelson Cruz 27.1
Leonys Martin 28.4
Dae-Ho Lee 28.4
Ketel Marte 29.9
Robinson Cano 33.0
Luis Sardinas 38.8
Adam Lind 39.1