PEORIA, Ariz. — While the Mariners are veering sharply away from their homer-centric approach of recent years, don’t look for manager Scott Servais to emphasize the bunting game.
They might, in fact, bunt less than last year.
"There’s a time to bunt," Servais said. "There’s no doubt. I’m not a big proponent of it early in games. There’s a lot that plays into it — ballpark and conditions, who is pitching against you and where your club is."
The Mariners ranked third among American League games a year ago with 38 sacrifice bunts. That was 26.7 percent above the league average.
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"There are some times when it comes up late in games," Servais said. "Moving a guy from second to third is probably a little more valuable than just moving a guy from first to second. I think the numbers bear that out."
But Servais doesn’t appear keen on giving away outs — a view he also emphasizes in base-running.
"I want to be very aggressive," he said, "but I also want to be aware of the value of an out and giving it away. The track record is we made a lot of outs last year on the bases. So it’s got to be smart. Aggressive but smart. Know who you are."
The Mariners opted for situational-hitting drills Sunday and Monday instead of intrasquad games (as a prelude to beginning their Cactus League schedule) because it provided a better opportunity to assess base-running skills.
"Base-running is really hard to practice," Servais said. "But putting a live defense out there, guys who can actually throw, you get a feel for what guys can do on the bases.
"As a base-runner, you are not invincible. They do see you, and they see how slow you are at some point.
"I think our lineup, the way it’s structured, hopefully our guys are more comfortable in making smart decisions because they know the next guy coming up can drive them in as long as they’re in scoring position."
Left-hander Jamie Moyer, a member of the Mariners’ Hall of Fame, is expected to arrive in camp Tuesday as the first in a series of alumni instructors. Plans call for him to be in uniform and serve as a coach for workouts.
Outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. is also expected to participate at some point in March.
Servais said the alumni will focus on specific skills with certain players. For example, Cruz is expected to spend time with outfielder Boog Powell on base-stealing skills.
Powell, 23, is among the organization’s fastest players, but he has just 53 steals in 90 attempts — a 58.9-percent success rate — over his four minor-league seasons.
Cruz stole 343 bases in 421 attempts over a 10-year career from 1977-86. That’s an 81.5-percent success rate.
The Mariners won’t waste any time this spring in employing their defensive shifts. Servais said they plan to employ them in Wednesday’s opener against San Diego "on guys we have data on."
Servais said he wants to use the shifts immediately "so guys get comfortable with it."
REMEMBERING A FRIEND
Reliever Mayckol Guaipe switched numbers this season from 53 to 48 in memory of his late friend and countryman Victor Sanchez, who died last March from injuries suffered in a boating accident.
Guaipe and Sanchez, native Venezuelans, and were teammates in 2012 at Short-A Everett and in 2014 at Double-A Jackson. Sanchez wore No. 48 at Jackson.
Sanchez was struck in the head by a boat’s propeller on Feb. 13, 2015 while swimming near Carupano in Venezuela. He underwent surgery and survived until March 28 before succumbing to his injuries.
CANO’S TEAM WINS
Robinson Cano’s team won the situational-hitting game over Nelson Cruz’s team, although there was a delay from the coaching staff before confirming a 185-178 score. The game began Sunday and was concluded on Monday.
"They have to buy lunch for the whole building," Cano said. "That was the deal. Everyone. The whole building. They said steak and stuff. I’m going to bring that up (on Tuesday)."
Why did it take a few hours to produce a final score?
It’s possible there was some creative accounting as Cruz’s team mounted a comeback in the final round.
Center fielder Guillermo Heredia, the Cuban defector, was again in the Mariners’ clubhouse, but his signing still hasn’t received final clearance from Major League Baseball. He reached agreement Feb. 22 with the Mariners on Feb. 22…Right-hander Felix Hernandez is scheduled to throw his second spring bullpen on Tuesday. That puts him on a loose schedule to make his Cactus League debut around March 10…The over/under odds for the Mariners’ victory total is 82 1/2 in the latest posting from www.bovada.lv, an online gaming site. That ranks third in the American League West behind Houston (87 1/2) and Texas (84 1/2) but ahead of Los Angeles (81 1/2) and Oakland (75 1/2)…
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners