All signs pointing up for Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager

Staff writerJuly 3, 2014 

Red Sox Mariners Baseball

The Mariners’ Kyle Seager, left, is congratulated by Robinson Cano after Seager’s home run against the Boston Red Sox on June 24 in Seattle. “Cano is a guy I talk to a lot,” Seager said. “He’s very open and very willing to talk about things and willing to help me. I’ve been taking advantage of it as much as I can.”

ELAINE THOMPSON — The Associated Press

  • Crunching numbers

    How does Kyle Seager’s numbers compare to the American League leaders in the All-Star balloting at third base?

    AL 3B LEADERS G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI AVG OBP SLG
    Josh Donaldson, Oakland8232757801221861.245.325.459
    Adrian Beltre, Texas702664289190944.335.381.508
    Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay8733945891211037.263.353.392
    Kyle Seager, Mariners8230436862131359.283.355.520

    Note: Through Wednesday

— The general view among the Mariners is that Kyle Seager remains a work in progress. That as good as he’s been this season — and it’s easy to build an All-Star case on his behalf — there’s more to come.

Much more.

“He can be really good,” second baseman Robinson Cano said. “Really good. Trust me, this is 2014. You will see in the next few years how good he can be.”

Or this from manager Lloyd McClendon: “The light is starting to flicker a little bit. He’s getting better. …

“I know he’s got power, and he’s going to hit 20-plus home runs. My goal is to see him become a complete hitter. That means using the entire field and becoming a tough out with two strikes and runners in scoring position.”

Seager agrees with all of this.

He’s on pace for the best season in his career — and note that Seager was picked as the Mariners’ best player in each of the past two seasons — but he sounds far from satisfied.

“I need to continue to work on my balance and my approach,” he said. “Being able to use the whole field is a big (goal).

“I want to be able to control the strike zone in what I want to accomplish, as opposed to being one-dimensional.”

It bugs him, for example, that opponents often shift their defense to place three infielders on the right side of second base.

“If they’re doing the shift,” Seager said, “that just lets you know how teams view you. They view you as a little one-dimensional and strictly as a pull hitter.

“If you want to be an all-around hitter, you have to be able to do all of that stuff right.”

Seager paused, looked across the clubhouse to where Cano was standing and nodded as he continued: “Nobody shifts him because he can hit it all over the place. He’ll do what he wants in there.

“That’s what you want them to be saying about you.”

Seager pointed to one of Cano’s at-bats in Tuesday’s victory over Houston to underscore his point. Cano adjusted to an up-and-away fastball on a full count from Jarred Cosart and sent a line drive past third base for a two-run double.

“I don’t know (how he does that),” Seager said. “I wish I did. He’s special. That’s his swing, though. He stays on the ball, and he keeps it down to left. That’s a really hard thing to do.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Seager cites Cano as a major influence in explaining his own surge in production. For one thing, there’s the practical impact of being the player who most often bats behind Cano in the lineup.

“You get a lot more (pitches) out of the stretch,” Seager deadpanned. “I’ve noticed that. You get slide-stepped a lot more (when you’re) hitting behind him. No, it’s good because if he’s on base, they have to go right at you.

“They have to be more aggressive. That doesn’t necessarily mean just fastballs. But they can’t nibble quite as much.”

It goes deeper than that, too.

“Cano is a guy I talk to a lot,” Seager said. “He’s very open and very willing to talk about things and willing to help me. I’ve been taking advantage of it as much as I can.”

So have others. McClendon jokes that rookie center fielder James Jones “looks like Robby’s shadow almost at times.” That, too, appears to be paying off: Jones is batting .293.

But Seager stands out.

“He’s a guy who can hit,” Cano said. “Everybody knew that even before I came here. Sometimes, we just talk about who is pitching, and what he’s got. He’s a guy who listens, and that’s why he’s so successful.”

With the chance, the consensus is, to get even better.

CRUNCHING NUMBERS

How do Kyle Seager’s numbers compare to the American League leaders in the All-Star balloting at third base?

AL 3B LEADERSGABRH2B3BHRRBIAVGOBPSLG
Josh Donaldson, Oakland8232757801221861.245.325.459
Adrian Beltre, Texas702664289190944.335.381.508
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay8733945891211037.263.353.392
Kyle Seager, Mariners8230436862131359.283.355.520

Note: Through Wednesday

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

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