Iannetta reached base in all three at-bats in Monday’s opener, a good sign for a Mariners club desperate for offense from its catchers.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Chris Iannetta came to the plate three times in the opening-day loss to the Rangers on Monday. And all three times he reached base, notching two singles and a walk in his first game as a Mariner.
It may not seem like a major accomplishment for a hitter. But in comparison to what the Mariners have received from their catchers at the plate in past seasons, it represented hope for something better in 2016. In the past two seasons, a Mariners catcher reached base three times in one game on just 16 occasions out of 324 games. In 2015, it happened just six times. It goes to explain why Mariners catchers had a .159 batting average and .205 on-base percentage last season.
The Mariners brought in Iannetta to change that lack of production. While he is unlikely to be a .300 or even a .280 hitter, he does find ways to get on base. Iannetta has a career .351 on-base percentage and that’s even after having an abysmal 2015 season where he hit .188 with a .293 OBP in 94 games with the Angels.
“Really happy to see him get off to a good start,” manager Scott Servais said. “I know he was concerned in spring training. He struggled mightily last year out of the gate and really has been a slow starter throughout his career.
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“ I had a meeting with him halfway through spring training because he wants to get off to a good start so bad. You can’t press. You have to let it come to you.”
Iannetta knows he’s been a slow starter — hitting .093 in April last season. He’s hoping a good start with a new team could spur a bounce-back season after last year’s struggles.
“I just wanted to have a good year,” Iannetta said. “I’ve always kind of started slow in the past. There’s been a few years I’ve come out and played well in April, but the majority of them haven’t been the kind of April that I wanted. “
His spring numbers weren’t outstanding. But there were reasons for it.
“There was lot of things going on in spring and I made some mechanical adjustments,” he said. “And I was thinking about those mechanical adjustments when I was hitting. I knew that’s not a good thing to do. But I was just trying to make sure I was in the right place to hit, so I sacrificed some at-bats in spring, diverting my attention from seeing the baseball and trying to hit it, to making sure I was in the right spot. So when we got to this point, I would hopefully be ready.”
• The Mariners had six players hailing from six different countries in their lineup on Tuesday: Hisashi Iwakuma and Norichika Aoki (Japan), Dae-Ho Lee (South Korea), Ketel Marte, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic), Chris Iannetta and Kyle Seager (United States), Franklin Gutierrez (Venezuela) and Leonys Martin (Cuba).