Mariners begin season full steam ahead

Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic stand for the National Anthem before a spring training game in Salt River Fields on March 21. (Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times)

It was just four years ago that Jerry Dipoto went full-on rebuild and started trading away key players. Now the Mariners look to compete with a high energy style of play. With young players on any roster, you can expect the energy to be there. But the Mariners energy has spread throughout the roster including the veteran players. Seattle looks to enter the 2022 season full steam ahead.

As was expected with how well Julio Rodriguez played this spring, the 21-year-old made the big-league roster.

The Mariners are also reuniting a few of their young pieces: Logan Gilbert, Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic and Cal Raleigh. The four were together at the alternate training site in 2020 and were able to grow together. Although Julio hasn’t officially played on the same roster with all of them at the same time until this season.

Jarred Kelenic didn’t have the best rookie campaign, but he started to look more comfortable towards the end of the season. He met with Mark McGwire in the off-season and looked like a totally different player this spring.

“Obviously, I failed a lot last year,” he said. “I think the best part about last year, though, is that the immense struggles I had, I came out on the other side. So I know that no matter what I go through moving forward, I came out on the other side of hell… so I know I can get through anything. I know for a fact that it will never get to be that immense again because if it does, then that’s on me because I didn’t apply anything I learned last year.”

With the Mariners inching closer and closer to their competitive window, they have a mix of veterans and young guns ready to prove themselves on the roster. In the starting rotation, the Mariners have three veterans (Robbie Ray, Marco Gonzales and Chris Flexen) and two youngsters, (Logan Gilbert and Matt Brash). In the bullpen there are five veterans with four or more years in the majors and five non-veterans. When it comes to the position players there are six veterans and seven non-vets. Which makes for a well-balanced ball club that is on the rise.

The Mariners begin the season in Minnesota, taking on the Twins for a four-game series before they head home to a sold-out crowd for their home opener on April 15th. Their opponent for the home opener will be none other than the defending AL West Champion, Houston Astros.

This year the Mariners have their eyes on the prize. For the players, missing the playoffs wasn’t acceptable. But for the fans, winning 90+ games was a joy to see and something they hadn’t seen since 2003.

“We fell two games short,” Crawford said. “We fell short of our goal. I was (upset). And it shouldn’t be acceptable at all.”

The Mariners have to take it day-by-day in order to reach the goal of a World Series title, but first they have to end the playoff drought.

“Our goal is to win the World Series,” Haniger said. “That should always be the highest goal. That’s what you play for. There are other goals along the way to achieve. Obviously, we have to make the playoffs in order to do that.”

While the future is certainly bright for the Mariners, the players have their eyes set on ending the playoff drought this year.