In his first month with the Mariners, Julio Rodriguez burst onto the big-league scene.

His best bursts, specifically, came on the base paths during a catch-me-if-you-can stretch in April, when he was 9 for 9 in stolen-base attempts during his first 19 MLB games.

Rodriguez, at 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds, regularly caught opponents off-guard with his sprint speed, which ranks among the fastest in all of baseball. Shoot, manager Scott Servais acknowledged that even the Mariners themselves were surprised at just how fast and just how athletic Rodriguez was when he showed up to spring training.

By the All-Star break, Rodriguez had 21 steals in 26 attempts, and every time he reached first base there was a feeling that he would “go” on the pitcher’s next pitch.

Rodriguez has downshifted since then.

Over the past 30 games, he has attempted just four steals, reaching safely in three of those, and he didn’t attempt to steal Friday night against Atlanta in what appeared to be a good situation to go.

After Rodriguez opened the bottom of the first with a single, Ty France, on an 0-1 pitch, grounded into a 1-4-3 double play, wiping out an early scoring chance for the Mariners.


Servais, when asked Saturday afternoon about that first-inning situation and Rodriguez’s declining stolen-base attempts, said the team is being more calculated with how the rookie phenom is being deployed on the bases.

“A lot goes into a stolen base,” Servais said. “It’s not just — he’s on first, he’s really fast, just go.”

Some of the calculation is how quickly the pitcher makes a pitch out of the stretch, something first-base coach Kristopher Negron is timing on every pitch and relaying to the first-base runner. If a pitcher has a slidestep and releases the pitch in 1.1 or 1.2 seconds, that can make it difficult for runners to steal. (If the release is more like 1.4 seconds or slower, then it can be easier for the runner to steal.)

Another component, Servais said, is that, well, everyone has the scouting report on Rodriguez now. His speed is not sneaking up on anyone anymore.

“When Julio gets on base, he gets every (pitcher’s) quickest time because they know he’s our biggest threat to steal bases,” Servais said.

Rodriguez’s sprint speed of 29.7 feet/second puts him in the 97th percentile in MLB, according to Baseball Savant. Only 16 players have a faster sprint speed this season


(Sidebar: The newest fastest player in the majors is Corbin Carroll, the Lakeside High School product who made his major-league debut with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 29. Carroll has a sprint speed of 30.5 feet/second, per Baseball Savant.)

As much as anything, though, the risk-reward calculation the Mariners have been considering is Rodriguez’s health.

Rodriguez missed a handful of games coming out of the All-Star break after he jammed his right wrist on a stolen-base attempt at Texas on July 17, and Servais doesn’t want him taking any unnecessary risks during the thick of a playoff chase.

“We want to be smart,” Servais said Saturday. “He’s a really important part of our team.”

That said, Servais said Rodriguez still has the green light to go any time.

“He will continue to steal bases. It’s just not going to be with reckless abandon like it was early on,” Servais said.