Martin hit a game-winning home run in the 11th inning to beat the White Sox on Wednesday. But it was illuminating that, though manager Scott Servais praised the home run, he made special mention of Martin’s antics in the Mariners’ dugout.

Share story

Among teammates and coaches, Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin is known for his inability to keep quiet in the dugout.

“He’s annoying,” said starting pitcher Felix Hernandez, pausing briefly. “Just kidding. He’s the energy of the team. He’s in there talking to everybody, yelling at everybody. It’s good for us.”

Martin provided the biggest jolt Wednesday with his game-winning home run in the 11th inning to beat the White Sox 6-5. But it was illuminating that, though manager Scott Servais praised the home run, he made special mention of Martin in the dugout.

“For me, Leonys Martin, the key to the game today, he had energy all day in the dugout,” Servais said. “Yelling, screaming, joking around, yelling at the other team, yelling at the umpire, which he does on every pitch. But that’s what it takes. It takes the constant grind, even when you’re down in the game.”

Martin laughs when his antics are mentioned.

“That’s me, man,” he says. “That’s my personality. Every time I go out there, I try to do my best and try to support my teammates.”

Martin has always pulsed energy in the dugout, but on the field he is trying to do something else: cut down on his strikeouts. That has been a topic of discussion all season.

Martin already has more home runs this season (13) than in any of his previous big-league seasons. In fact, he had never hit more than eight home runs before.

But he also has struggled with strikeouts. For the season, 27 percent of his plate appearances have ended in strikeouts, which would be the highest mark of his career.

Servais and Martin talked around the All-Star break about goals for the second half of the season.

“I asked him what he wanted to do different,” Servais said. “ ‘How are you going to get better?’ And the first thing he said is, ‘I’ve got to cut down my strikeouts.’ Which he does. I think you’ve seen it with two strikes, especially in the second half. He’s taking some walks. He’s not swinging quite as hard.”

It’s a small sample size, but Martin has made some gains. His strikeout percentage was 28 percent in the first half; it’s 24 percent since the All-Star break.

Martin always has been aggressive at the plate, but Servais has talked all season about corralling that aggressiveness, particularly with how hard Martin swings. It’s one of Martin’s flaws.

Martin hit two more runs in Wednesday’s game, but Servais highlighted a subtle aspect of the game-winning shot.

“I believe the pitch he hit out was an 0-2 pitch,” he said. “Not trying to kill it, just hit it.”

Strikeouts are something Martin and the Mariners hope they can fix. His relentless chatter in the dugout? That’s here to stay.

“I don’t know if it helps,” Martin said, “but that’s what I’ve been doing every time, and I can’t change.”