PEORIA, Ariz. — Think about the most negative, pessimistic, unhappy person you know.
Do you have that person in mind?
OK, now put that person into the high-stress, failure-based sport of baseball where finding success just three times in 10 trips to the plate is a considered good thing.
Imagine being around that person under those circumstances?
Eugenio Suárez is not that person.
In fact, the Mariners’ new third baseman is the opposite of that person in every way.
“That’s me, man,” he said.
In his introductory news conference after being traded, along with outfielder Jesse Winker, from the Reds to the Mariners on Monday, Suárez tried to explain why Winker, his new teammates, his past teammates and others associated with him during his time with the Reds rave about his personality.
“That’s Geno,” Winker said.
But how does Suarez describe it?
“I try to be like the happy guy,” he said. “I don’t think about bad things. I just focus to be happy every day. This game is so hard, and you don’t have the time to take (failure). So I just take the good moments, try to be happy and bring the good vibes only. I always say that in mind, ‘good vibes only.’”
It’s a mindset he learned from his father growing up in Puerto Ordaz, a small town in southern Venezuela near the Brazilian border.
“When I always say ‘good vibes only’ I feel strong from that,” Suárez said. “My dad always told me, ‘be happy, no matter what.’”
Take an 0 for 4 game with four strikeouts, affectionately known as a Golden Sombrero in baseball parlance. It’s good vibes only because tomorrow brings another game.
“Everybody else is like, ‘I want to see this guy when he doesn’t play good,’” Suárez said. “I keep it that way every time. I keep it happy with good vibes.”
What about fighting through an early season slump that costs you playing time and sinks your season numbers to a .198/.286/.428 slash line with 23 doubles, 31 homers, 79 RBI, 56 walks and 171 strikeouts in 145 games?
Good vibes and trying to see the ball deeper to the plate allowed him to get the playing time back to have a redeeming September, slashing .370/.460/.808 with eight doubles, eight homers and 13 RBI.
“It’s not a secret from everybody that was a tough year for me,” he said. “I’m talking about (batting) average. I still had 31 homers. But it’s in the past. I’ve prepared myself for the new season. I feel good. I didn’t change anything. I just prepared better. I don’t think about bad things. I’m always looking forward. I can’t wait for this season.”
How about getting traded from the team that helped you find your most success after seven seasons?
He didn’t need make his own good vibes. Suárez found them from his new teammates in an organization that is focused on making the postseason.
“That’s all we are thinking about,” he said. “Everybody is motivated, everybody is together for this. We talk about making it to the playoffs and go from there, just go step by step. It’s hard, but we’ve got a good group of players that are experienced. It’s going to be fun.”
With his constant optimism, a perpetual smile and unpredictable hair styles, Suárez believes in fun.
“Every time he doesn’t something with his hair, he hits like 40 homers,” Winker said. “It would be exciting to see that.”
Suárez hasn’t done just something with his hair, he’s channeling his inner Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians.
In 2018, he dyed his hair platinum gray. He brought back variations of the look, a little more blonde than white at times and with some frosted tips in 2019 and again in 2020.
But this year, he showed up with the left side of his hair dyed white and the right side dyed black. The division starts around wear he parts it on his scalp, and also leaks out the back of his hat and helmet.
“I always try to do something different to feel like myself and who I am,” he said. “And who I am is this. I woke up one day and thought, ‘OK I did it white two or three years ago. Why don’t I do it white and black, like this.’”
So he asked his wife, Genesis, about doing it.
“She was like, ‘Are you serious?’” Suárez said. “And then, she said, ‘Ok, let’s go.’ And I did it. I feel like myself.”
After telling Edwin Diaz in 2018 that he’d get matching haircuts with the former closer if he reached 50 saves and losing that wager, manager Scott Servais wasn’t certain he’d make that bet to match Suarez’s hair if he hit 50 homers.
But Suárez indicated a friendly wager had been made with Servais.
“We’ve got a deal,” Suárez said. “Skipper said if I hit 50 homers, he’s going to dye his hair like me. I said, ‘Well if I do it, everybody has got to do it like me.’ Even you guys.”
If Suárez hits 50 homers and it leads the Mariners back to the postseason for the first time since 2001, there might be an entire fan base dying their hair half black and half white.
And there would be nothing but good vibes only.
- The Mariners announced the signings of first baseman Mike Ford and catcher Chance Sisco to minor league contracts with invites to MLB spring training. Both should provide depth for Class AAA Tacoma.
Ford, 29, played in parts of three big league seasons with the Yankees. In 101 career games, he has a .199/.301/.422 slash line with 11 doubles, 17 home runs, 41 RBI and 35 walks. Seattle selected Ford in the 2018 Rule 5 draft, but opted to send him back to New York.
Sisco, 27, appeared in parts of five MLB seasons with the Orioles (2017-21) and Mets (2021). In 196 games, he has .197/.317/.337 slash line with 24 doubles, 16 homers and 54 RBI.
- Marco Gonzales will start the Cactus League opener on Friday vs. the Padres at Peoria Stadium. He is scheduled to pitch two innings.
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