Chambliss at loss for answers

MARINERS notebook: Team’s ineptitude at driving in runners irks batting coach

larry.larue@thenewstribune.comMay 4, 2012 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – No one is more aware of the struggles of the Seattle Mariners’ offense with runners in scoring position than Chris Chambliss.

In four games, the Mariners went hitless in those situations.

What’s it like being the batting coach of a team that went 0-for-30 with RISP, had a .237 average overall and has been shutout four times in 27 games?

It’s about as much fun as it sounds.

“Hitting with runners in scoring position is the toughest time to hit,” Chambliss said. “The pitcher is doing everything he can to stop you.”

So what does a good hitter do in that situation?

“The first thing is, know what you want to hit – and don’t miss it,” Chambliss said. “Not just what kind of pitch, but the zone you want to hit it in. With all the information available to players now, there’s no excuse for not knowing what the pitcher throws in certain situations.

“If you don’t know what you’re trying to do by the time you get in the batter’s box, it’s too late.”

When players and coaches talk about having a “plan” in any given at-bat, they’re talking about one that was formulated before the game began.

“You’ve got to have a plan, even if it’s not the right one,” Chone Figgins said. “You have to have an idea what you want to do before you try to do it.”

For Chambliss, that means knowing what pitches you won’t swing at as well as those you will.

“You see guys get ahead in the count, then chase a bad pitch. That’s not a plan,” Chambliss said. “That’s the point. You don’t swing at a pitcher’s pitch unless you’ve got two strikes and have to.

“You try to force him to throw the pitch you want, and when he does, be aggressive. I call that ‘selective aggression.’ ”

Asked how patient the team can be with young hitters learning and veterans trying to find themselves, manager Eric Wedge answered.

“You’re playing against the greatest players in the game at this level, and we’ve got a lot of guys who are 22-, 23-, 24-years old,” Wedge said. “And they’re hanging in there with the best in the league.

“We’re close in all these games, and you can’t win a game unless you stay close.

RYAN STILL STARTER

Wedge sat shortstop Brendan Ryan and his .130 batting average Thursday but said the team had to find a way to get him going rather than consider other long-term options.

“Ryan takes away more runs at shortstop than anybody,” Wedge said. “If we can get a borderline average from him at the plate, we’ve got a championship-caliber shortstop.

“But that’s up to him. He’s got to give us more at the plate.”

Kyle Seager at shortstop?

“I don’t see that happening,” Wedge said.

FIGGINS FEELS ‘GREAT’

Figgins went 0-for-4 Thursday, dropping his average to .189 – one point higher than the .188 he finished with in 2011.

How’s he feel?

“I feel great, I’m taking some great hacks,” Figgins said. “I’m getting nothing to show for it. I think I’d rather feel bad and get hits.”

ON TAP

Seattle hosts Minnesota at 7:10 p.m. today ina game to be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Carl Pavano (1-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (3-2, 3.38).

larry.larue@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Twitter: @LarryLarue

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