It’s not quite the single red-painted seat in the sea of green of Fenway Park’s right-field seating area. That bright red marker commemorates Ted Williams’ legendary blast June 9, 1946, which is said to be the longest in the stadium’s storied history, reportedly measuring 502 feet.
But Mariners players and coaching staff decided to jokingly commemorate Daniel Vogelbach’s towering two-run homer into the third deck of T-Mobile Park in the 6-2 victory Monday night over the Rangers that snapped a six-game losing streak.
A bright orange cone with yellow “caution” tape wrapped around the seat marking off the area was placed on the first-row seat of section 310 where the ball landed
“You might want to take a look when you get out there,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “You gotta have some fun, right?”
It was just the third time a player hit a home run into the third deck of right field in the stadium’s history. Mo Vaughn was the first to do it Sept. 24, 1999. While playing for the Angels, Vaughn hit a solo blast off Gil Meche. Carlos Delgado became the second player to accomplish the feat, launching a 1-0 fastball from Arthur Rhodes for a two-run homer.
Vogelbach’s came on a 3-2 curveball from Jose Leclerc in the seventh inning. And it was not just impressive, but important. It stretched a 3-2 lead into a 5-2 advantage and helped the Mariners get a much needed victory.
Unfortunately, MLB Statcast was down league-wide Monday night, so there are no distance or exit-velocity measurements. Given that he pulled it directly down the right-field line and over the foul pole, the distance wouldn’t be as far as some might expect. Guesses ranged between 420 to 450 feet. The height needed to the ball into that area also is difficult to achieve.
Vogelbach hit one into the third deck in batting practice before the game Monday and does it enough in the practice sessions that his teammates aren’t surprised.
“He’s got a pretty good idea of what he’s doing at the plate,” Servais said. “The one thing he’s able to do in his swing, we like the term that he can ‘ride balls out.’ He’s on plane for a long time in the strike zone. When he is on time, he’s got big power. He’s pretty strong. He’s huge and put together.”
Day off for Haniger
Mitch Haniger was out of the starting lineup Tuesday night. Servais said he decided to give the hard-grinding right fielder a break.
“I think he could use a day off,” Servais said.
It was mentioned Haniger doesn’t take days off even when he’s not playing.
“He doesn’t,” Servais said. “I’m guessing he’s in the video room or hitting extra in the cage. But sometimes it’s good to sit and watch a game and recharge the batteries a little bit.”
Haniger hasn’t been able to replicate the torrid start he got off to in 2018. He’s had flashes of strong production, but not for extended periods. His strikeout rate also is a concern. He’s punching out in 28% of his plate appearances, which is up from the 21.7% rate in 2018. He’s hitting just .229 on the season, but does have an .802 OPS.
“We’ve talked about his swing and he’s got a lot of moving parts and the timing has to be right,” Servais said. “But I’m not worried about Mitch at all.”
The plan is still for Yusei Kikuchi to make a normal start against the Angels and Shotei Ohtani on Thursday night. Kikuchi and Ohtani went to the same high school — Hanamaki Higashi High School in the Iwate Prefecture. However, Kikuchi is three years older and they were never teammates. But they are close friends. In five plate appearances against Kikuchi in Japan, Ohtani has a single and a double while striking out three times. Kikuchi could make a one-inning start in his following turn, which would come against the Astros.
Ryon Healy (lower back inflammation) said he has no timetable to begin baseball activities. Healy said the muscles are still very tight and they have to wait until they “unclench” before he’s cleared to begin swinging a bat.
Servias said that once Hunter Strickland (right lat strain) throws off the mound, his timetable to return to the bullpen would be around two weeks. Strickland would throw two extended bullpens, a live batting practice and then report to an affiliate for a rehab assignment. He’d probably make two to three appearances on the rehab assignment before coming back.