Mariners Insider Blog

Watchpoints: Finding time for all in the Mariners’ now-crowded outfield

Guillermo Heredia has been squeezed out lately in the the competition for playing time in the Mariners’ outfield.
Guillermo Heredia has been squeezed out lately in the the competition for playing time in the Mariners’ outfield. AP

Guillermo Heredia was the forgotten man in the Mariners’ outfield over the last few days when Minnesota started right-handed pitchers in three straight games.

Manager Scott Servais vows that won’t continue.

"He’ll be in there in Texas," Servais said. "Against (left-hander) Martin Perez (on Saturday) and maybe for two out of three (games in the weekend series against the Rangers)."

Playing time in the outfield is a premium commodity since Mitch Haniger returned last Sunday from the disabled list and reclaimed his job in right field after missing nearly seven weeks.

Club officials view Haniger as a cornerstone of their future, and his performance to date, though still a small sample size, continues to validate that view.

When Haniger suffered a strained right oblique muscle on April 25 in Detroit, the Mariners plugged in Ben Gamel, who quickly established himself as a lineup fixture.

Gamel is batting .345, which would lead the American League if he had a few more plate appearances. He shifted to left field to accommodate Haniger’s return, which left Heredia and Jarrod Dyson to split time in center field.

While Heredia has been a steady performer, Dyson is batting .323 over the last 20 games, ranks among the league leaders in defensive metrics and remains one of the game’s top impact players on the bases.

Even so, Servais insists Heredia won’t be relegated to platoon duty solely against left-handed pitchers. Servais contends Haniger and Gamel each need down time despite their production.

"Haniger was out so long," Servais said. "He feels great, and he wants to keep going. But I don’t want to run him into the ground either. And Gamel has played every day for quite some time."

Servais pointed to another possibility: Gamel’s ongoing early work to become a viable first baseman.

"The versatility is really big," Servais said. "If eventually, Gamel can get a little first base in his game, then it really becomes a nice piece to have — to be able to move him around and be able to give Danny (Valencia) a day (off).

"We’re not quite ready for that yet, but we’ll keep moving toward it."

Other watchpoints:

***Lefty James Paxton (6-1 with a 2.25 ERA) looks to bounce back from his first loss when the Mariners open their weekend series at Texas. The game starts at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest.

***Texas right-hander Tyson Ross, signed in January as a free agent, is making his first big-league appearance in more than 14 months. He made just one start last season for San Diego before undergoing thoracic outlet surgery on his shoulder.

***Paxton is 2-2 with a 3.53 ERA in eight career starts against the Rangers, including 0-1 and 3.52 in three starts at Globe Life Park.

***Ross was 0-2 with a 5.27 in four career games against the Mariners while with San Diego.

***Adrian Beltre is 7-for-13 in his career against Paxton, while Rougned Odor is 5-for-20, and Elvis Andrus is 3-for-15.

***Robinson Cano is the only active Mariner with more than four career at-bats against Ross. He is 3-for-12 with two doubles and a homer. Injured shortstop Jean Segura is 6-for-14 against Ross.

***This is the Mariners’ first of three trips this season to Arlington, but the Rangers have already made two of their three visits to Safeco Field. The Mariners hold a 5-1 edge in the season series.

TIME CAPSULE

It was nine years ago Friday — June 16, 2008 — that the Mariners fired general manager Bill Bavasi as the club languished in last place in the American League West Division with a 24-45 record.

The Mariners promoted Lee Pelekoudas to serve as interim general manager before hiring Jack Zduriencik as a permanent replacement on Oct. 22.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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