Jarred Kelenic reflects on early struggles
OAKLAND – Jarred Kelenic’s first two weeks in the Majors haven’t really been a storybook. Some parts of his early days, he said, were “frustrating”. Amid the growing pains, however, Kelenic kept the right frame of mind.
“I’m learning a lot,” Kelenic said. “The last few days I’ve been trying to be a sponge and learn from my teammates, learn from my opponents and learn this game of baseball because it’s a different level. These are the big leagues.
Kelenic received an off-day in Sunday’s 9-2 loss to the Padres, although he made an appearance as a pinch hitter. For the rookie, it was the first opportunity to take a break since his call. Considering the start of his career, this was a good time to take a step back and reflect.
Since playing 3 for 4 with a homerun in his second career game, Kelenic has had two hits in his last 29 batting games leading up to Monday’s series opener against Oakland. Its forward slash is currently at .135 / .200 / .270. Yet neither Kelenic nor the Mariners are sounding the alarm bells.
“A day off for a young player like he did yesterday is precious,” said manager Scott Servais. “Just for [take a] deep breathing and not just to watch the game, but to think [about] the game while you watch it. This is something I talked to him about before the game yesterday, and I hope it helped, [to] kind of sit down.
“I think I learned so much in the first six, seven days of being in the big leagues that I felt yesterday was a day where I could almost take a break, take all this information. and start dissecting everything I had learned, ”Kelenic said.
Part of Kelenic’s struggles is due to bad luck. Kelenic certainly thinks it does, and the numbers back it up. On Monday Kelenic had a batting average of 0.143 on in-play balls (BABIP), and given the league’s average BABIP for any given year hovers around 0.300, that low number indicates bad fortune at home plate.
Even without the early production, there are some encouraging signs. For one thing, Kelenic doesn’t hit too often, a problem that often plagues young hitters. On Monday, Kelenic had a 20% take-out rate – in comparison, the league average is 24.1 and the rookie average is 29.
There’s also the matter of Kelenic’s pure bat-to-ball skills. On Monday, Kelenic had a swing hitting percentage of 6.8, which would rank in the top 20 for skilled hitters. Digging deeper, Kelenic had an 85.9 touch percentage, which would rank in the top 15 for skilled hitters. In short, every time Kelenic swings the bat, there’s a good chance he’ll make contact.
“He’s swinging on the right ground,” Servais said. “He always has a good idea of the strike zone and what he can handle and what he can’t handle, so that’s a big positive. He doesn’t swing and miss a lot, which is a another very big positive to have in our game today.
“So you swing in the right places, you put the ball in play, don’t swing and miss so much – eventually things will start to go in your favor.”
Infielder Ty France made his long-awaited return to the starting lineup on Monday. He hit sixth and started from first base against the A’s.
As France made its comeback, outfielder Sam Haggerty was placed on the 10-day injured list with inflammation of his right shoulder.
France haven’t played since May 15 and before being hit by a 98.4 mph fastball from Dustin May on April 19, he had been the team’s top hitter.
Servais said the infielder will have no innings limitation and will hopefully be in the roster for all three games against Oakland. Servais noted that France had not seen a live pitch for 10 days, so there may be an adjustment period.
Seattle adds infielder
The Mariners have asked infielder Travis Blankenhorn for waivers from the Dodgers, the team said. Blankenhorn was then assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Blankenhorn, 24, has spent most of his professional career in minors, except for two brief cups of coffee in his 20s and 21s.
In 468 career games with Minors, Blankenhorn has managed .256 / .324 / .429 with 56 homers. Blankenhorn has spent most of his Minor League career in the infield, registering 1,807 innings on second and 1,209 on third, as well as 262 2/3 innings in left field.