PEORIA, Ariz. — The Mariners have had some of the best infield defense in baseball the past few years, and infield coach Perry Hill has gotten a lot of credit for that, particularly with the development of shortstop J.P. Crawford, who won a Gold Glove in 2020.

This spring, Hill was presented with the challenge of integrating two new starting infielders — third baseman Eugenio Suárez and second baseman Adam Frazier. Hill had seen both of them play, but he also watched a lot of video of them.

“So I had an idea what they were all about, and if we had to tweak something here and there,” Hill said.

Frazier was a finalist for a National League Gold Glove in 2019 and 2020, so there isn’t a lot of work that needs to be done with him.

“He’s a really good player and a solid defensive player,” Hill said. “He is smart, he knows where to be, he knows how to play hitters, and where we position him to start a hitter doesn’t mean he is going to stay there all the time. He’s really good at reading swings and moving on his own.”

Suárez is not as accomplished defensively as Frazier. He had 17 errors last season for Cincinnati while playing shortstop and third base. He has had a negative defensive-wins-above-replacement stat the past two seasons.


“Geno (Suárez) has work to do (defensively), and Perry has worked with him a lot,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I think there are some positives, and the big thing about Perry Hill is that he is so fundamentally sound, and he holds guys accountable in doing the fundamentals correctly.

“The biggest thing with Geno is making sure his feet are in a good spot when he throws. He’s got plenty of arm strength, that’s not an issue. Accuracy with his throws is, so he’s working on things there. There is room for improvement, there is no doubt, but he’s played a lot in this league and he’s working on some new things.”

That’s where Hill comes in.

“You get a couple of new players in, and you don’t want to jump on them right away and say, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do that,’ or tweak this or tweak that,” Hill said. “You just got them in a trade, and you’re telling them you wanted them, so you don’t go over to them on the first day and start changing things.

“I watched both of them for a good week (in spring training), and I thought maybe we could tweak Geno’s footwork a little bit, and I think it has helped him. I think he has become more accurate with his throws because of it.”

Hill said it helps that Suárez is so receptive to the coach’s advice.

“Geno’s the best,” Hill said. “He has bought in and he’s a great team guy. He’s the same guy every day. He’s not up and down, and you like those kind of players. It remains to be seen (how he performs defensively this season), but the way he works at it, I think he will be just fine.”


It will take time, of course, to perfect. Suarez has three errors this spring, with two coming on throws.

“You may see things that are a little different and not as clean as he would like, but that is what spring training is for,” Servais said. “When errors are made down here, Perry says that is the best thing that could happen to them because now they’ll listen to me.”

The Mariners are also taking advantage of this time to get Crawford and Frazier comfortable working together.

“The more they are together, the better off, and I pair J.P. and Adam together in almost every drill,” Hill said. “And it’s working right now.”

When it comes to working, perhaps no one on the team enjoys their job more than Hill, who turned 70 earlier this month. Being away from the team in 2020 because of concerns with COVID-19 added to his appreciation of his job.

“This is me, this is me,” he said. “I am little bit loud and obnoxious at times, but this is me.”


His players respond to his work, and he is bullish on the team’s infield defense this year.

“I thought Ty (France) should have been a Gold Glove finalist (at first base) last year,” Hill said. “Then you’ve got J.P., who has won a Gold Glove, Adam Frazier who was finalist for the Gold Glove in the National League, and Geno, who I think improved footwork is going to really help him.

“And then we’ve got Dylan Moore, and we’ve got Donnie (Walton) and Abraham Toro, who are all capable players. It’s just all meshing together.”