PEORIA, Ariz. — New Mariners manager Scott Servais is promising a go-go approach this spring on the bases. Whether that continues into the regular season depends of what happens in March.
"You will see that a lot from us in spring training," he vowed. "Guys who can run, we want them to run. We’ve got to find out what they can do."
The Mariners swiped just 69 bases last season, which ranked 11th among the 15 American League clubs. Worse, their 60.5-percent success rate ranked next-to-last.
That led to off-season efforts to upgrade the lineup’s speed an athleticism.
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New center fielder Leonys Martin stole 30-plus bases in 2013 and 2014, while left fielder Nori Aoki has 81 steals in four big-league seasons. Having shortstop Ketel Marte around for a full season should also help.
Martin is already looking forward to playing home games at spacious Safeco Field after spending the five previous years at Texas.
"I love it, man," he said. "I love Safeco Field. I said, `Thank you, God,’ that this is going to be my home ballpark."
The Mariners acquired Martin and pitcher Anthony Bass on Nov. 16 from Texas in a trade for reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, outfielder James Jones and utilityman Pat Kivlehan.
Bass subsequently sought and received his release in order to sign with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, but the Mariners viewed Martin as the key piece in the deal.
"For how we wanted to build our team," Servais said, "he’s a key acquisition for us. Going for athleticism and defense, especially in the outfield, he rates at the top of the list on all of the defensive metrics. And he can really throw."
Martin also released a statement late Saturday through his agency, MDR Sports, regarding Friday’s arrest of Bart Hernandez on human-trafficking charges in Miami. Hernandez helped Martin to defect from Cuba in 2010.
"I am obviously aware that Bart Hernandez was arrested yesterday by the United States government. The decision to arrest him was made by the government, not by me, and any questions about why he was arrested should be directed to the prosecutor in Florida.
"Out of respect for the judicial process, I will have no further comment on this matter, and I ask that the media respect my privacy and the privacy of my family. My total focus is on doing everything in my ability to contribute to a successful season for the Seattle Mariners."
Martin did address the matter briefly prior to Sunday’s workout.
"It wasn’t my decision (that led to Hernandez’s arrest)," he said. "All I’ve got on my mind is to play baseball. That’s what it’s all about. Just play baseball."
Hisashi Iwakuma and Nathan Karns had their first official bullpen-throwing workouts Sunday when the Mariners held their second practice. The 12-minute sessions permitted 30-35 pitches.
The Mariners are splitting their pitchers into three groups this spring under pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.’s preferred throw-and-two-days-off schedule.
Sunday was Group 2’s turn and also included Joe Wieland, Ryan Cook, Mayckol Guaipe, Adrian Sampson, Danny Hultzen, David Rollins and Jonathan Aro.
Group 3 is scheduled for Monday: James Paxton, Mike Montgomery, Vidal Nuno, Tony Zych, Joaquin Benoit, Cody Martin, Charlie Furbush, Evan Scribner and Brad Mills.
Felix Hernandez is also in Group 3, but he isn’t expected to throw his first bullpen until later in the week.
The system recycles Tuesday with Group 1, which threw Saturday: Wade Miley, Taijuan Walker, Joel Peralta, Donn Roach, Steve Cishek, Justin De Fratus, Casey Coleman and Blake Parker.
Paul Fry is also in Group 1 but did not throw on Saturday.
The Mariners expect to receive test results Monday on Fry, who remains sidelined by an as-yet unidentified ailment. "We know he’s not feeling well," Servais said. "Nothing orthopedic. He’s just not feeling well. He’s down a little bit on the weight, which is a little alarming."…The Mariners have a sign above the door leading from their clubhouse to the field: 1,396 Miles to Safeco Field. Are you ready?
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners