Baron gets first start after beginning season in Class AA.
Mariners catcher Steven Baron admitted he was taken off guard by his call-up from Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday for the final four weeks of the MLB season.
“I think my body is still numb,” Baron told reporters later that afternoon.
So you can imagine how he felt Wednesday, when he arrived at Safeco Field, turned a corner and saw his name written in bold, black letters on Seattle’s lineup card. The 24-year-old made his major-league debut Wednesday (going 0 for 4 against Texas), capping a mercurial rise from Class AA to MLB in the same season.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Baron said before the game. “I still can’t believe I’m here. … I’m not going to lie, I’m still nervous. I’m taking BP out there and I’m shaking a little bit.”
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Baron is known more for his defense than his bat, having hit just .228 in seven seasons as a minor-leaguer. Yet a midseason jump from Class AA to the Rainiers actually saw his average spike to .277 over 53 games.
“A lot of failures, and a lot of learning from those failures,” Baron described his winding route to Safeco, admitting he even questioned his career choice before a breakout 2014.
All of which makes the slightly bewildered look Baron had on his face in the home clubhouse Wednesday more than a little understandable.
“I was playing around with him: ‘Hey, are you nervous? You feeling good today?’ ” said fellow catcher Jesus Sucre, who made his own debut against these same Rangers in May 2013. “I remember my first time. I’m not going to lie, that first time when I put my finger down, I was a little nervous. You don’t want to screw it up.”
Sucre said it took until his first at-bat until he truly settled in, and he had a simple bit of advice for his younger teammate.
“As soon as you go to the ‘pen, you’ve got to put your mind in it,” Sucre said. “All you have to do is play defense and just help the pitcher.”
Mariners coach Lloyd McClendon doesn’t have any more logical of an explanation for his team’s home woes than the fans sitting in their recliners. Seattle entered Wednesday just 29-38 in games played at Safeco Field — and finished just one game above .500 there last season despite finishing 87-75 overall.
“There hasn’t been much logical about this season,” McClendon said. “Listen, we got out there and we get Nellie Cruz and get (Franklin Gutierrez) in the lineup and (Mark) Trumbo in the lineup, and we’re eight games under against left-handers. Last year, we had no righties in the lineup and we had a winning record against lefties. I can’t explain it. We’ve got a better batting average at home but win more games on the road.
“Logical? Come on, now. There’s nothing logical about this season.”
M’s ask permission to interview Eppler
Sources confirm a Fox Sports report that the Mariners have asked for formal permission to interview Billy Eppler, assistant general manager of the New York Yankees.
Eppler has also been in contact with the Angels about their open general manager position.
•Seattle outfielders Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez were again scratched from the lineup on Wednesday, the former with a strained quad and the latter with inflammation in his pelvis and lower leg.
McClendon just shook his head when asked whether Gutierrez was getting better but was more positive about Cruz.
“He’s closer, but he’s got to be able to run,” McClendon said. “He’s done some steps, and we’ll test him today, probably.”