SEATTLE — Logan Morrison is already seeing benefits from his extended rehab stay at Triple-A Tacoma — the full 20 days allowable for non-pitchers — in his comfort level at the plate since rejoining the Mariners.
“It’s been huge,” he said. “At the beginning of the year, I didn’t even have a feel. It was like, `What’s going on?’ Everything was to the second baseman.
“Now, when I hit the ball to second, I know what I did. Now, I’ve just got to correct that and not hit so many there.”
Those corrections are already taking hold.
Morrison did have a grounder to second in Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Yankees, but he also had a homer and an RBI double.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, he found himself batting cleanup and Friday when the Mariners sent out an injury-depleted lineup for their series opener against Texas at Safeco Field.
“I told him when he left here (May 23 on a rehab assignment),” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “that he would come back here when he was swinging the bat well.
“I think it’s paid off, and he’s got a little bit of a groove going. He’s feeling good about what he’s doing.”
Morrison hit two fly balls and drew a walk Friday in a 1-0 loss to Texas.
Morrison was just 3-for-20 in eight games before suffering a strained right hamstring prior to an April 14 game at Texas. It was more than five weeks later before he was sufficiently recovered to head to Tacoma.
“The biggest mistake we can do,” McClendon said, “is when a guy gets hurt, to have him go down and get three days of at-bats, and think he’s going to be ready.”
Morrison batted .308 for the Rainiers with three homers and eight RBIs in 18 games. He also had 11 walks, which helped boost his on-base percentage to .416.
Now, finally, he’s getting a chance for regular duty in the big leagues. Friday marked Morrison’s third straight start at first base.
“It’s definitely not the way I envisioned things going,” he said. “But I can’t do anything about it now. I’ve just got to move forward and keep getting better.”
Hart making progress
Outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart took batting practice on the field for the first time since exiting a May 18 game in Minnesota because of a strained left hamstring.
“Nothing has been a problem so far,” he said. “I think I’m going to start jogging Saturday. So I’m close (to being ready to begin playing on a minor-league rehab assignment). I’m excited to get back.”
Second baseman Robinson Cano entered the weekend as the American League’s batting leader at .333. Notably, he is batting .333 at home and .333 on road.
Want to assess his overall consistency? Consider these various slash numbers (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage). All numbers prior to Friday’s game.
*at Safeco Field: .333/.381/.412.
*in road games: .333/.391/.454.
*vs. right-handed pitchers: .345/.397/.479.
*vs. left-handed pitchers: .317/.372/.376.
*in day games: .372/.413/.535.
*in night games: .312/.373/.382.
*with runners in scoring position: .318/.441/.523.
*with bases empty: .344/.373/.377.
The Mariners rank ninth among the 15 American League clubs in average attendance, prior to Friday’s games, at 23,494 a game.
Crunch that number alongside a survey by Emory Sports Marketing Analytics that seeks to identify which fan bases are “most sensitive to performance and prices.”
Their findings: The Mariners rank 11th among all 30 clubs in sensitivity to performance. That means either a lot of fair-weather fans or a lot of fans who simply demand high performance in return for support.
Phillies and Orioles fans ranked atop the survey (most sensitive); Yankees and Cardinals fans at the bottom. You can check the findings for all 30 clubs, and how the rankings were calculated, at http://bit.ly/1hUyFvE.
The Mariners’ bullpen has a 1.93 ERA since May 1 (23 earned runs in 107 1/3 innings)…Robinson Cano’s hitting streak ended at 10 games when he went 0-for-4. It was the 25th double-digit hitting streak in his career…The Mariners were shut out for the eighth time this season…Felix Hernandez yielded one run or fewer in eight or more innings for the 58th time in his career. This was just the second time he did so and got a loss. He also has 12 no-decisions…Lloyd McClendon has used 61 different lineups in 67 games.
The Everett AquaSox will be part of the Mariners’ organization through 2016 after reaching agreement on a two-year extension to their player-development contract.
“We are pleased to extend our partnership with the Mariners,” AquaSox executive vice president Tom Backemeyer said in a statement. “And we are excited that future Mariners will continue to get their start here in Everett.”
Everett plays in the short-season Northwest League and has been a Mariners’ affiliate since Sept. 12, 1994. Eight current Mariners, including pitcher Felix Hernandez, played at some point for Everett.
The AquaSox were scheduled to open their season Friday against Hillsboro (Diamondbacks) at Everett Memorial Stadium.
It was 29 years ago Saturday — June 14, 1985 — that the Mariners scored seven runs in the fifth inning en route to a 13-5 victory over Kansas City at the Kingdome.
Bob Kearney, Gorman Thomas and Alvin Davis contributed homers to a 15-hit attack against an opponent that went on to win the World Series.
The Mariners and Rangers continue their three-game weekend series at 7:10 p.m. Saturday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (1-4 with a 5.97 ERA) will face ex-Mariners lefty Joe Saunders (0-2 and 3.60).
Root Sports will carry the game.