MINNEAPOLIS — The whirlwind of his first All-Star Game was a blur to Kyle Seager. The Mariners third baseman spent his three days in Minneapolis just trying to keep up with everyone and everything.
It was all that he expected it would be and more.
“It was so much more,” he said. “There’s so much more going on here that I didn’t realize — all the festivities and everything. This is such an amazing experience. I’m just truly blessed to be here.”
Seager was inserted into the game in the sixth inning as a pinch-hitter for designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Facing Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez, he worked a 2-0 count and hit a sharp ground ball to first base for an out.
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“I told myself I wasn’t going to swing at the first pitch, just to kind of clear the nerves and get into the at-bat a little bit,” he said. “I got a fastball and rolled over, but it was such a cool experience.”
Seager planned on taking a hard cut at the first pitch in his second at-bat of the game. But that pitch was a 101 mph fastball from flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, which went by in a blur.
“I was ready to swing on that one” he said. “But that was … fast.”
Seager eventually grounded out to first. It was a satisfying 0 for 2.
“It was so much fun,” he said.
Seager had a small but vocal cheering section, consisting of his mom and dad, his wife, Julie, newborn son, Cru, and his brother, Corey, who is a prospect for the Dodgers and played in Sunday’s Futures Game.
If you’ve never seen Corey Seager, he looks nothing like Kyle. He’s about 6-foot-4 and has a full head of hair. Kyle recently shaved his head because as Corey said, “he’s finally giving up the dream.”
“I can’t compete,” Kyle joked. “Pretty much of everything you can think of he’s just better at – baseball, life.”
Well, that’s not necessarily true. Seager is a major-league all-star and his brother hasn’t gotten a major-league at-bat. Seager is still largely under the baseball radar nationally. People don’t realize how good of player he has become, but his AL West opponents know.
“He’s really good,” said A’s closer Sean Doolittle. “We go back always. He’s a UNC guy and I played at UVA so I’ve been dealing with him and seeing his name for a long time. You just look at the past couple of months he’s had. He might have gotten off to a little bit of a slow start, but he’s been arguably one of the best hitters in the last couple months. That’s the kind of stuff he’s capable of. He’s continued to get better every year. Now he’s got (Robinson) Cano in front of him. That could be a formidable punch for a number of years.”
Rodney lets arrow fly
Fernando Rodney promised he was going to have some fun and fire off one of his invisible bow and arrows if he got to make an appearance. Usually reserved for notching a save, Rodney had to settle for facing two batters and closing out the eighth inning before drawing back the imaginary bow and let an invisible arrow fly.
“I told you I was going to do it,” he said.
Rodney came in with two outs in the eighth inning. He walked Todd Frazier on four pitches, but then came back to strike out Daniel Murphy.
“It’s a little difficult warming up like that,” he said. “The second batter I felt more comfortable.”
• Tigers’ designated hitter Victor Martinez knew Lloyd McClendon would have success as a manager of the Mariners. He saw it when McClendon was his hitting coach the past few seasons.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Martinez said of the Mariners’ success. “I told him a couple years ago, that he’s going to have another chance to manage. I knew he was going to be a good manager. Look at him right now, he’s doing his thing. He’s the kind of guy that lets you go out there and play if you do things right and the rest will take care of itself. He expects you to respect the game. Go out there and play hard and good things will happen.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org.