Overall, the start to the Seattle Mariners 2014 season has not been a disappointment, especially considering some of the early pitching injuries. With their #2 ace Iwakuma and highly regarded prospect Taijuan Walker missing the first several weeks of the season, the Mariners relied on Rookie Roenis Elias and veteran Chris Young to pick up the slack and they did a great job. The Mariners were as close as a game away from first place and have hovered around the .500 mark since.
In spring training, shortstop Brad Miller showed a lot of promise being one of the best hitters in all of spring training to win the spot over Nick Franklin. So far this season, he has yet to find that same success and it is hurting the Mariners who were counting on steady production between the two young infielders. Early in the season, manager Lloyd McClendon showed faith in Abraham Almonte by giving him the starting center field job leading off in the lineup. While his speed and hustle impressed many, his poor performance at the plate led to him being replaced by another speedy player in James Jones. James Jones recently broke a Mariners record by hitting safely in his first 11 games, which was formerly held by none other than Edgar Martinez.
Michael Saunders is finally producing at the plate and creating a deadly threat in the 1-2 spots with James Jones to setup Robinson Cano, who is racking up hits with ease. Corey Hart, who was hitting in the low .200’s throughout the season with 5 home runs, injured his hamstring running to second base, which provides an opportunity for Nick Franklin to be called up after batting .376 with 7 home runs in AAA.
The Mariners are currently sitting at 23-23, and with another month or so until the All Star Break, there is plenty of time get well ahead of the Rangers and Angels and possibly even the red hot A’s if they cool down. One reason the Mariners should start to rise above .500 is that they still are missing two of their key starting pitchers in James Paxton and Walker. With both of them about to return to the club behind Kind Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma, they will have one of the best rotations in baseball. In addition, the Rangers, after losing several key players to injury, have now lost Prince Fielder for the rest of the season for a neck surgery. As long as the Mariners can stay ahead of the Angels, they should have no problem claiming a wild card spot.
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