So far, the Tacoma Rainiers are striking a nice blend of patience and aggressiveness at the plate.
In five games, their 27 walks lead the Pacific Coast League — and are most in a five-game stretch to start a season since 2009 (28).
And yet, they are swinging the bats — their 21 hits with runners in scoring position also lead the league.
It is part of the new organizational hitting philosophy mandated by first-year general manager Jerry Dipoto.
“It was preached in spring training that it is not OK to strike out,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “It was preached when you get down 0-2, find a way to get back into the count and get it to 3-2.
“Overall, the general organization philosophy is we are going to grind at-bats out. We are going to make pitchers work. We are going to swing at strikes. We are going to take balls.”
Three Rainers players — Mike Baxter, Shawn O’Malley and Chris Taylor — already have five bases on balls this season to share the team lead.
Five players have had more walks than strikeouts.
“They wanted to instill in us to be selective, get a good pitch to drive — and don’t miss it,” O’Malley said. “We talk about controlling the (strike) zone, and this team is pretty confident in their approach while not trying to do too much.”
That 2009 squad that had 28 walks through five games also had 46 strikeouts. This team only has 35 strikeouts.
And look — both of those teams started the season 4-1.
“It’s off the charts what we are doing as a team right now,” Listach said.
Tacoma’s home game Tuesday with El Paso was rained out, and will be made up as part of a July 28 doubleheader at Cheney Stadium. Tickets are redeemable for any game except July 3. The last time the Rainiers were rained out was Aug. 29 during the final homestand last season. … Listach said his starting pitchers were on a 90-pitch limit through the first turn. It will be bumped up between 100-110 pitches. … Former Mariners catcher Dan Wilson, now a roving instructor and a defensive coordinator, was with the Rainiers on Tuesday for pre-game work. … The last time Tacoma started 5-1 was 2005.
Original Tuesday starter Joe Wieland (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will instead take the hill Wednesday. El Paso will stick with touted right-handed prospect Carlos Pimentel, who is set to make his season debut. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.