Meet the 2019 Seattle Mariners. Do you even know who they are?
The first afternoon of his career with the Seattle Mariners, right-handed reliever Austin Adams is already embracing one of the club’s mantras this season — “control the zone.”
“I got a shirt and everything, so I’m just trying to live by that,” Adams said.
The 28-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday after being acquired by Seattle on May 4 when he was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals four days prior. Right-hander Dan Altavilla, who allowed three earned runs, four walks and one hit in his one-day call up Sunday in Boston, was optioned back to Double-A Arkansas to make room.
“This month-and-a-half has been just absolutely crazy,” Adams said. “With getting called up (by Washington) and then going from Fresno all the way to Miami, throwing there, going to Colorado, getting sent back down, and then getting DFA’d and being off for about a week, packing up the apartment. It’s just been crazy, everything that’s been going on.”
Adams said it would be nice to finally settle in with Seattle.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I’ll put my best foot forward and go from there.”
Adams appeared in one game in relief with the Nationals on April 20 against the Marlins, allowing one earned run in one inning pitched. He made his MLB debut with Washington midway through 2017, and has a 0-0 record and 3.86 ERA in nine relief appearances in the majors, spread across three seasons.
He said he learned a lot during his brief stretches in the majors by talking to Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux, manager Dusty Baker and veteran relievers during that 2017 season.
“Had an opportunity last year, unfortunately didn’t get the job done and spent the rest of the season in Triple-A,” Adams said. “Had a really good year there, didn’t have a great outing in Miami (in April).
“Things happen, you move on, and you learn from the experiences. It all comes down to what the shirt says here just control the zone.”
Adams was immediately optioned to Triple-A after joining Seattle’s organization, and threw twice in relief for the Rainiers, striking out four and allowing just one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless innings.
He relies primarily on his fastball and slider. Mariners manager Scott Servais said when the slider is on target, Adams is effective. Helping Adams find consistency in the strike zone will be the focus, Servais said.
“He’s got wipeout stuff,” Servais said. “When he does control the zone he gets very good results. If he was a totally finished product, killing it, he probably wouldn’t be here.
“There was an opportunity for us to acquire him, we had a chance to bring him to the big leagues and we’ll see if he takes advantage of it.”
Servais and Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto are familiar with Adams, having drafted him in the eighth round in 2012 while with the Angels.
“I knew Austin a little bit when I was with Anaheim, when we drafted him back in the day,” Servais said. “He’s got a good arm, he’s got a really good breaking ball. We’ll keep giving guys opportunity and see if they can take advantage of it, and see where it goes.”
ROAD TRIP RESET
The Mariners returned to Seattle after posting a 2-8 record during their East Coast road trip, and dipping below .500 for the first time this season.
Servais addressed the slide the past couple of weeks, which seemed to happen about as fast as Seattle’s franchise-best 13-2 start this season.
“Coming out of the gate the way we did certainly raised expectations a lot,” Servais said. “We were killing it offensively, and and it was covering up a lot of things — our defense, a base running mistake here or there, or maybe some wild pitching at certain times. We just scored so many runs to overcome it.
“You can’t maintain that level of offense for an entire season. We’ve come back to Earth, so to speak. And in the meantime we haven’t cleaned up things defensively, and we’ve had some iffy innings pitching from different spots, whether it’s bullpen, starter.”
The Mariners had a majors-leading 44 errors entering Monday, and their team ERA (4.85) was the seventh-worst. While they lead the majors in runs (230), RBIs (226) and home runs (78), the offensive production has significantly slowed.
“How do we get it turned around? It really starts defensively for me,” Servais said. “You’ve got to catch the ball — 27 outs is a big deal. We’ve got to get more consistent doing that, which will help our pitching, which will help control our pitch counts.”
Servais said J.P. Crawford will continue to play a significant amount of time at shortstop, and the Mariners expect third baseman Kyle Seager (hand) to be ready when his injured list stint is up at the end of the month. Second baseman Dee Gordon (wrist) should also return soon.
“Hopefully the defense does become more solid,” Servais said. “It’s really going to need to be for us to get back to playing good baseball. You can’t win games 10-2 all the time. You’ve got to win some 4-2 and 5-3, and that’s where the pitching and defense really come into play. That’s going to be the key.”
▪ Left-handed starter Wade LeBlanc (oblique) was scheduled to make his first rehab start with Tacoma on Monday night in Las Vegas. He has been on the IL since April 14.
The Mariners placed right-hander Felix Hernandez (shoulder) on the 10-day IL on Sunday. How Seattle handles his upcoming turn in the rotation partially depends on how LeBlanc’s outing with Tacoma turns out.
“Some of it may depend on Wade,” Servais said. “We’re looking at options that could come up and fill Felix’s start on Friday. Kind of up in the air right now.”
▪ Seager has also reported to Tacoma to begin a rehab stint. He has been recovering from surgery to repair a tendon in his left hand since March 12. He is eligible to return to the big-league club on May 25.
“Knowing Kyle, on the 25th Kyle’s going to be ready,” Servais said. “That’s how I look at it. I certainly hope he is. I look forward to getting him back.”
Seager was scheduled to take BP with the Rainiers on Monday, and is projected to play in Tuesday’s game. Servais said Seager will likely play most days in the field with Tacoma, with some DH days mixed in.
“We’ll work him in,” Servais said. “I’m sure he’ll get a couple of at-bats the first day and progress him, kind of build his program up.”
▪ Gordon was not placed on the IL after injuring his wrist in New York, but has missed four games. Servais said Gordon could possibly return to the lineup later in the week.
“He’s going to go through some defensive work. We’ll see how he feels there,” Servais said. “The biggest thing will be swinging the bat, and the vibration off the bat.”
Gordon went through infield drills with the rest of the Mariners on Monday. Rookie utility player Dylan Moore, who is on the 10-day IL with a wrist injury, took some ground balls, but was not throwing yet.
▪ Right-hander Hunter Strickland (lat) has resumed some throwing activities. He has been on the IL since late March.