Seattle Mariners

Mariners notebook: Seager puzzled by poor production with runners in scoring position

Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager reacts after flying out against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, Aug. 14, 2015.
Seattle Mariners' Kyle Seager reacts after flying out against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. AP

Kyle Seager knows the numbers, knows they’re not pretty and doesn’t really know why.

Seager is the front end of the big three at the heart of the Seattle Mariners lineup, but he is batting just .170 this season with runners in scoring position, including .143 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

“I think it’s just one of those things,” he said. “I don’t try to do too much more. I try to stay with the plan for the most part. Stay on the normal approach. It hasn’t been going my way as often as I would like.”

That’s an understatement.

A year ago, Seager batted .301 with runners in scoring position and his career average in those situations, even with this year’s slide, is .253. This year, though, he has been part of an ongoing club-wide problem.

The Mariners entered Saturday ranked last among American League clubs with a .219 average with runners in scoring position. They also ranked last in on-base percentage at .298. They were 13th in slugging percentage at .357.

So it isn’t just Seager. Still, he’s one of the Mariners’ key guys, and they need more.

“He’s probably trying to do a little bit too much,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He hasn’t really stayed connected and used the entire field to hit. He’s recognized that. He’s working on it.”

But Seager admits he’s puzzled.

“Hitting in front of (Nelson) Cruz,” he said, “you should see pretty good pitches to hit. I feel like I’ve hit balls at people. I think that’s just kind of the way it goes, I guess.”

FARQUHAR RECALLED

The Mariners recalled right-hander Danny Farquhar from Triple-A Tacoma prior to Saturday’s game to replace struggling Mayckol Guaipe.

It is Farquhar’s third tour with the big-league club and comes after he compiled a 2.13 ERA in his last 10 outings for the Rainiers. He is 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA this season in 25 big-league appearances.

“I feel good (at Tacoma),” Farquhar said. “I just have to keep pitching like that, I guess. The cutter is where I want it. The fastball is where I want it. The curveball is where I want it.

“I haven’t thrown as many change-ups as I would like, but that was my fourth-best pitch anyway. But the first three are there.”

Guaipe, 25, has struggled in three brief major-league call-ups after compiling a 3.02 ERA in 34 games at Tacoma. He gave up three runs in 1 2/3 innings Friday and is 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA over eight games.

Farquhar, 28, replaced an ineffective Felix Hernandez in Saturday’s loss and gave up one run in 2 2/3 innings. That made him one of the Mariners’ most effective pitchers in a 22-10 loss to the Red Sox.

“I was told he’s throwing extremely well,” McClendon said, “and is close to being where he needs to be. We need to get our eye on him and see where he is. We need him back to being the guy he’s capable of being.”

Farquhar is seeking to capture his form from last season, when he was 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 66 appearances. He finished the 2013 season as the club’s closer and had 16 saves in 18 opportunities over the final two months.

PAXTON’S PROGRESS

Lefty James Paxton is set to pitch a simulated game Tuesday in Texas after reporting no day-after problems following a Friday bullpen workout. He is recovering from a strained tendon in his middle finger suffered May 28.

“It’s been fine,” he said. “No lingering tightness or soreness the day after. It’s all been great. … So, hopefully, the sim game goes well and I can move on from there.”

McClendon said Paxton could be ready to depart for a minor-league rehab assignment if no problems surface in Tuesday’s simulated game.

Paxton is expected to require two or three rehab starts before returning to active duty. Such a timetable points to him rejoining the rotation around Sept. 10.

SETBACK FOR FURBUSH

Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush will undergo a further examination this week on his biceps after he continued to experience discomfort Saturday in his latest bullpen workout.

“He still feels something in there,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “So we’ll get it checked.”

Club officials had hoped Furbush, who hasn’t pitched since July 7, would be ready to start a rehab assignment if everything went well in Saturday’s session.

Furbush was diagnosed with tendinitis and, initially, the ailment wasn’t viewed as serious. His absence continues to plague a struggling bullpen. Furbush was 1-1 with a 2.08 in 33 games when placed on the disabled list.

FLORES INJURY

Tacoma outfielder Ramon Flores, acquired July 30 from the Yankees, suffered compound fracture in his ankle Friday after taking a nasty spill on the warning track at Cheney Stadium in a 7-5 loss to Sacramento.

Flores, 23, had been viewed as a likely September recall candidate prior to the injury. He was batting .423 (22-for-52) in 14 games for the Rainiers since arriving in the deal that sent outfielder Dustin Ackley to New York.

MINOR DETAILS

Right fielder Alex Jackson, the organization’s top prospect, continued to show encouraging signs Friday by hitting a two-run homer in Short-A Everett’s 6-3 victory at Eugene.

Jackson, 19, has hits in five of six games since returning from a three-week absence due to a thumb injury. He has his slash numbers up to .262/.356/.476 in 29 games for the AquaSox.

The Mariners selected Jackson with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft. He entered the season ranked No. 1 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.

*Lefty Nick Neidert, the club’s top pick in this year’s draft, continues to pitch well for Peoria in the Arizona Rookie League with nothing to show for it.

Neidert, 18, permitted just one unearned run and two hits in four innings Friday but took the loss when Peoria lost 4-0 to the Rangers. He is 0-2 with a 1.65 ERA in nine starts for Peoria.

I-90 SERIES

Some trivia: Seattle and Boston serve a bookends for Interstate 90 which, at 3,101.77 miles, is the nation’s longest interstate highway.

Now for the kicker.

I-90 begins in Seattle with Edgar Martinez Drive adjacent to Safeco Field and ends at the Ted Williams Tunnel under Boston Harbor into Logan Airport.

LOOKING BACK

It was one year ago Sunday — Aug. 16, 2014 — that Felix Hernandez’s record run of ultra-quality starts ended at 16 when he gave up two runs in five innings in a 4-2 loss to Detroit at Comerica Park.

Hernandez had allowed two or fewer runs in 16 consecutive starts prior to his loss to the Tigers. He went 9-2 in that span with a 1.41 ERA.

SHORT HOPS

Nelson Cruz’s career-best hitting streak ended at 21 games in Friday’s loss to the Red Sox, but he entered Saturday with a streak reaching base safely in 25 straight games. … Ted Simmons, who serves as a special assistant to general manager Zduriencik, was inducted Saturday into the St. Louis Cardinals’ Hall of Fame. An eight-time All-Star, Simmons spent 13 of his 21 seasons with the Cardinals…The Mariners, prior to Saturday, had hit two or more doubles in 16 of their previous 17 games.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Red Sox conclude their three-game series at 10:40 a.m. PDT) Sunday at Fenway Park.

Left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will face Boston lefty Henry Owens (1-1, 3.60). Nuno is looking to break a personal nine-game losing streak that dates to last season and covers his time with three clubs.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

American League

Batting average with runners in scoring position (through Friday):

  • Toronto .290
  • Minnesota .280
  • Baltimore .279
  • Kansas City .276
  • Detroit .270
  • Boston .263
  • New York .262
  • Chicago .260
  • Oakland .255
  • Los Angeles .248
  • Texas .245
  • Houston .245
  • Cleveland .239
  • Tampa Bay .234
  • Seattle .219
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