By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Let’s talk fashion.
About that high-stirrup look that Seattle Mariners rookie center fielder James Jones sports? It’s not a style statement or a hat-tip to tradition or the game’s golden era.
It’s much more practical.
“It’s hard for me to find pants that really fit well,” Jones said, “because I’m really lanky. The baggy look doesn’t look good on me. So I’ll just go with the high stirrups.”
So far, Jones looks just fine in uniform.
He entered Monday’s game at 7-for-18 in seven games for a .389 average. Add three walks and his on-base percentage jumps to .476.
“He’s a high-energy kid,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He brings a lot of intangibles to the table, not to mention his speed and defense. He gets after it pretty good. I think he energizes the rest of the (lineup).”
Applying the hammer
First baseman Justin Smoak and third baseman Kyle Seager rank among the major-league leaders in hitting the ball hard in computations by Mark Simon of ESPN Stats Info.
Smoak ranks fourth among all players at 24.4 percent, while Seager is seventh at 24.0 percent. The major-league average among non-pitchers is about 17 percent. Designated hitter Corey Hart ranks 31st at 20.2 percent.
The leader is Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at 28.3, followed by Boston DH David Ortiz (25.8) and Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (24.7).
Simon also cites the players who hit the ball softly most often. The only Mariner in the top 45 is second baseman Robinson Cano, who ranks 24th at 51.0 percent of the time. The leader is Angels shortstop Erick Aybar at 65.3.
Even Simon acknowledges it’s a subjective stat. The evaluations are made by video review, and all contact is rated as hard hit, medium hit or soft hit.
Neither lefty James Paxton (strained back muscle) nor right-hander Taijuan Walker (sore shoulder) reported any day-after problems following bullpen workouts Sunday as the latest step in their recovery programs.
Plans call for both to throw again prior to Wednesday’s game. Sunday was Walker’s first test from a mound; Paxton threw for the second time. Both are tentatively slotted for simulated games after three bullpen workouts.
If no problems surface after two simulated games, they will continue their recovery on a minor-league rehab assignment.
¦ Outfielder Michael Saunders remains slowed by a hyper-extended left knee, which he suffered when he tripped and fell while chasing a fly ball. His availability is likely to be limited for the three games against the Rays.
¦ Outfielder/DH Logan Morrison should test his recovery from a strained right hamstring this week by running the bases. Once judged healthy, he will likely require a minor-league rehab assignment.
Play them close
The Mariners, entering Monday, had played 27 games (of their 37) that were decided by three runs or less. That’s the most among American League clubs. The Mariners were 14-13 in those game.
Cleveland (13-12) ranked 25, followed by Boston (13-11), Oakland (12-12) and Houston (8-16) with 24.
The Mariners are showing some interest in veteran outfielder Xavier Nady, who became a free agent after refusing an outright assignment to the minors. … Cano entered Monday’s game with a 20-game streak of reaching base at least once. It was the third-longest active streak in the majors behind Boston first baseman Mike Napoli (31) and Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis (22). … Outfielder Cole Gillespie jumped over the Mendoza Line without doing a thing. An error on an April 25 play was changed by Major League Baseball to a single. That raised his average from .167 to .222 (4-for-18). … .Tampa Bay lefty David Price, who starts Tuesday, has never pitched in Seattle. The Rays have played 21 games at Safeco with Price on the roster.
Class AAA Tacoma infielder Nick Franklin entered the week leading the Pacific Coast League with a .388 average.
Franklin also ranked third in on-base percentage at .470, second in slugging percentage at .673 and second in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at 1.143.
He had seven homers and 25 RBIs in 25 games for the Rainiers.
Franklin spent eight days last month in the majors but had just two hits in 16 at-bats in seven games. He also struck out six times.
It was 13 years ago today — May 13, 2001 — that Edgar Martinez became the second player in franchise history to score 1,000th runs. Ken Griffey Jr. reached the milestone in 1999.
Martinez hit four digits in the first inning of a 7-5 victory at Toronto when he scored from second base on a two-out single by Bret Boone against
Esteban Loaiza at Skydome.
Martinez would finish his 18-year career, all with the Mariners, in 2004 with 1,219 runs. That remains the franchise record. Ichiro Suzuki is second with 1,176, followed by Griffey at 1,113.
The Mariners and Rays continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. today with a marquee pitching match-up: right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0 with a 2.73 ERA) against Tampa Bay lefty Price (3-3 and 4.53).
Root Sports will carry the game. The series concludes at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday. After an open date Thursday, the Mariners hit the road for three games at Minnesota and two at Texas.