Big thanks to Don Ruiz for covering the Tampa series. I watched the games on my laptop and can’t say I was disappointed in not having to cover them.
Brad Miller and Nick Franklin are at the top of the line-up per usual. Yes, they both had their moments in the field in Tampa. It’s been a rough month for the two rookies in that regard. But really, it was expected. It’s something that was written about often before they were ever called up. They are rookies and had fielding issues in the minor leagues. Those aren’t going to disappear in the big leagues. They are going to be magnified and discussed and criticized. Welcome to the big leagues kids.
Mariners minor league infield instructor Chris Woodward has traveled to Texas with the team. He was in the dugout in Tampa Bay, and they’ve asked him to travel for the time being to continue to work with, tutor and be there for Miller and Franklin, who he worked with a lot during spring training.
“I don’t know if it is a comfort thing for some of these guys, but they asked me to come along, so of course I will,” Woodward said. “I will help them as much as I can.”
Said acting manager Robby Thompson: “He’s a good guy to have here. He did a great job down below. He can only help.”
When Woodward visited Miller and Franklin when they were in the minor leagues, he warned them how difficult the adjustment will be at the big league level.
“I explained to them when they were down there that up here it’s a little different,” Woodward said. “Every little thing that happens gets exposed or gets scrutinized. Watching how they are dealing with it his big and how they move forward.”
Mistakes happen. They just seem to hurt worse at the big league level.
“Everything is so magnified,” Woodward said. “There’s a lot of things that they did in Double A and Triple A that don’t necessarily get swept under the rug, but it doesn’t get as noticed, not only from the media standpoint or the manager standpoint. It’s not blown up. Up here, it’s all about winning.”
Woodward doesn’t want them to be satisfied. Yes, right now just making the routine plays would go a long ways in helping them progress. But he knows there the capability of more.
“To be a good major league shortstop and second baseman, it’s not always just about making the routine plays,” Woodward said. “You need to turn those tough double plays and make those tough plays. The good ones do it. The ones that stay at this level for a long time do it.”
There is only one way to get to that point – work.
“You work every day determines how you play on a daily basis,” Woodward said. “If you consistently prepare for those plays, they become routine. Brendan is pretty good at that. He works at it. I think it’s good for them to see how hard he works.”
Effort isn’t a problem for Miller and Franklin.
“Miller is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around,” Woodward said. “There are times I almost have to take a step. Nick was working his tail off in Tacoma when I saw him.”
On the positive news front, Mike Zunino is progressing quite quickly in his recovery from a surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his left wrist. Zunino is beginning baseball activities. He hit off the tee today and will take batting practice hopefully as soon as next week.
Zunino, who went on the DL on July 26, has vowed to return faster than Ken Griffey Jr. did when he suffered the same injury and was out just 23 days. Zunino is running out of time in beating Griffey. And the Mariners will likely be careful with him since the season is pretty much a wash.
“He’s really working hard at it,” Thompson said. “He’s champing at the bit to get back. He’s working his way to regular BP. And hopefully we can get him on a little rehab assignment.”
Here’s my weekly radio hit with Ian Furness and Jason Puckett on SportsRadio KJR.