Mariners Insider Blog

Around the Horn: Who's the left fielder this year?

Left field has always been a dark hole in the Seattle Mariners solar system – and it figures to remain something of an spot no one man can fill in 2009.

It was four years into franchise history before one left fielder was on the field for consecutive opening days, and since 1990, the list of players to start a season in left field is less than stellar.

Try Greg Briley, Tracy Jones, Kevin Mitchell, Mike Felder, Eric Anthony, Darren Bragg, Lee Tinsley, Glenallen Hill and John Mabry – and that was just the '90s.

What about 2009?

Endy Chavz (pictured here) is the best defensive left fielder, without question, a left-handed hitter with speed and, at the plate, the ability to play the little game-within-a-game that manager Don Wakamatsu likes. Chavez will likely be in most games, whether he starts them or not.

Ken Griffey Jr. will play some left field, in part because even the Mariners sabermetric guru, Tony Blengino, says he's capable of doing so. Putting Griffey in left a day or two each week would free up DH at-bats for others.

This is also the spring of decision on Wladimir Balentien, who is out of options. To stay with the team, however, he has a month to show that his .202 batting average last season was nothing more than a harsh learning experience – and no one with the team is certain that's true.

Like Balentien, Mike Morse is out of options and offers more versatility than Balentien. He can play the outfield, albeit with lots of folks holding their breath, first base, third base and in an emergency, shortstop.

Ronny Cedeno, the Mariners new Willie Bloomquist, can also play in left field.

Figure it this way: Chavez will get the lions share of time in left field, and Morse or Balentien will be out there against left-handed pitching. Griffey will play left often enough to keep him happy.

Down the line, Greg Halman is probably the answer, although when it comes to the Mariners, left field has always been a question mark.

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