Utility infielder Luis Sardinas will get the start at shortstop in place of Ketel Marte, who has struggled in the last few games. Sardinas, a shortstop coming up through the minor league ranks, is seeing his first action at the position in the regular season.
Mariners manager Scott Servais went with a slightly different lineup vs. the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night in hopes of ending a four-game home losing streak. Utility infielder Luis Sardinas got the start at shortstop in place of Ketel Marte. It will be the first regular-season action at shortstop for Sardinas.
“It’s been awesome with his ability to play all over the field,” Servais said of Sardinas. “He’s natural shortstop. That’s what he was signed as. That’s what he played pretty much for his entire minor-league career. There’s been some second base and some third base. We’ve actually experimented more with him than other teams he’s been on. But he is a natural shortstop.”
Sardinas’ only start and complete game this season came April 6 in left field — the second game of the season vs. the Rangers. The Mariners needed to get him a complete game at a position to keep him sharp.
His start at shortstop Tuesday allows Servais to give Marte a break from his early struggles.
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Marte had a brutal game Monday night, going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and looking lost at the plate. He’s hitting .160 (4 for 25) with no extra-base hits, two walks and five strikeouts. Three of his four hits this season came in one game vs. the Rangers.
“Obviously he didn’t have a great night last night, but he’s not going to play all 162 games,” Servais said. “That’s why we have other guys to play. I’m looking forward to (seeing what) Luis can do out there tonight.”
At age 22, Marte was handed the everyday shortstop job in the offseason after playing in 57 games at the end of the 2015 season. The Mariners didn’t bring in any direct competition for him. The job was his to start the season. That hasn’t happened since the days of Yuniesky Betancourt.
In that second-half call-up last season, Marte hit .283 (62 for 219) with a.351 on-base percentage, including 14 doubles, three triples, two homers and 17 RBI. He impressed the new regime and scouts with a mature approach and plate discipline that hadn’t always been evident during his time in the minor leagues. The Mariners have yet to see that version of Marte this season.
“I’ve often made the comment that it’s a lot tougher to hit in April than it is in September,” Servais said. “The pitching is fresh. You don’t run into those clubs that may be out of it, or injuries to their pitching staff throughout the year. Everyone wants to get off to a great start, especially when you are a young player. It doesn’t always happen. Ketel showed flashes of what he can do. We’ll give him a night off and see where it goes from there.”
Servais doesn’t believe Marte is pressing.
“I don’t think so,” Servais said. “But who isn’t in here? We all want to perform a little bit better. I don’t think he’s any different than anybody else.”
Norichika Aoki appeared to have second base stolen in the first inning of last night’s loss. But his slide carried him off the base, and he was ruled out. It left the Mariners 0 for 4 in stolen-base attempts this spring.
“We haven’t had a lot of opportunities,” Servais said. “We haven’t gotten it done yet. We haven’t got into our game yet and how it was all masterfully drawn up to work. You need opportunities. You have to get guys on base to create more chances.”
Is it a key part missing from their already slumping offensive attack right now?
“I think it’s important,” Servais said. “It’s a different dynamic to our team that we focused on in the offseason and spring training and how we wanted to play a little different. It just hasn’t worked out that way yet.”
Batter vs. pitcher matchups
Mariners numbers vs. LHP Derek Holland:
Rangers numbers vs. LHP Wade Miley:
On this date in Mariners history
- 1988 – The Mariners beat the eventual American League Champion Oakland A’s, 6-4, before an opening-night crowd of 35,321 at the Kingdome.
- 1996 – Ken Griffey Jr. hits two home runs, including a monster shot over Skydome’s Hard Rock Cafe in a 9-6 win at Toronto.
- 1998 – Alex Rodriguez collects his fourth career two-home run game in an 8-7 loss in Boston.
- 2015 – The Mariners overcame a 3-0 deficit, built a 7-3 lead, gave up 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, but prevailed with an 8-7 win in 10 innings over the Oakland Athletics. … Rickie Weeks hit a 3-run, pinch-hit home run, and Nelson Cruz hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the 10th to lead the Mariners to the series victory. … Marks the third time in club history and first since 1984 to win back-to-back, extra-inning road games.