With the Mariners’ previous leadoff hitter, shortstop Ketel Marte, on the disabled list because of a sprained thumb, Seattle manager Scott Servais again turned to the hot-hitting Martin at the top of the order.
Mariners center fielder Leonys Martin batted in the leadoff spot for the second consecutive game as manager Scott Servais continued to “ride the hot hand” in the game Monday against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.
With the Mariners’ previous leadoff hitter, shortstop Ketel Marte, on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained thumb, Servais again turned to the hot-hitting Martin at the top of the order.
Servais put the left-handed Martin at leadoff even though the A’s started Rich Hill, a left-handed pitcher.
Martin is hitting .308 with a .378 on-base percentage and four home runs in May.
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“I like where Leonys is at right now,” Servais said. “He’s obviously been swinging the bat great. His at-bats have been good. He’s been bunting, he’s been doing all of the things you look for to get on base at the top of the lineup. We’re going to ride the hot hand.”
Martin has as many walks this season (16) as he did last year despite having half as many plate appearances. He is on pace for the most walks of his career.
Martin also has stolen five bases in seven attempts in May, something that appealed to Servais when making his decision. Servais could have slotted outfielder Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot; Aoki has hit leadoff in 36 games this year. But Aoki is hitting .234 this season (.268 in May) and has been caught stealing six times in eight attempts this year.
Servais wouldn’t say if Martin would remain as the leadoff hitter while Marte is out.
“You guys think way more about this than I do,” Servais said. “That’s OK. The average fan does. I’ve said all along that I’d like to stay consistent as possible.
“But I think you have to be open to change, and if you aren’t, then I’m not really doing my job.”
Mix and match at shortstop
Servais said he will play both Chris Taylor and Shawn O’Malley at shortstop while Marte is out.
O’Malley, the Mariners’ utility man, started Sunday. Taylor, who spent time with the Mariners each of the past two seasons, started Monday.
“We’ll mix and match,” Servais said. “I want to keep both guys in there and not put too much pressure on either one of them.”
Servais said he didn’t expect Marte to do “any baseball activity” during the Mariners’ eight-game homestand.
Marte injured his thumb on a headfirst slide Saturday. Servais said Marte needs the swelling to go down first.
“It’s going to take some time,” he said.