Third-base coach takes blame for holding up Justin Smoak | Mariners notebook
'Obviously I screwed up,' Jeff Datz said after seeing the replay of his ninth-inning call.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Third-base coach Jeff Datz would like to replay Michael Saunders' at-bat in the ninth inning all over again.
Datz made a questionable decision that likely halted the Mariners' comeback Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Datz looked at the replay of Saunders' at-bat with the bases loaded after the game and before Saturday's game. Saunders reached first on an error by first baseman Michael Young. The ball ricocheted off Young and rolled into foul territory down the right-field line.
Datz held Justin Smoak at third, which only brought one run home. Saunders rounded first before he realized Datz's decision to hold the runners. Saunders was caught in between first and second when closer Joe Nathan tagged him for the second out.
"Obviously I screwed up," Datz said. "After looking at the replay and coming to talk to (Mariners manager Eric Wedge) and asking for his opinion and some others about it, they felt Smoak would've scored pretty easy. Looking at the replay, I agree."
Datz knew the ball bounced off Young and toward the wall, but he did not want Smoak to get thrown out at the plate given his speed.
"We all make mistakes from time to time," Wedge said. "Nobody's perfect, and it's a tough job to coach third base. Two or three times a year, something may happen like that. The fact of the matter is, you don't really notice him a great deal down there and that's a good thing because he's doing what you'd like to see him do."
Nathan was able to end the game by striking out Dustin Ackley two batters after Datz's cautious decision. Datz hopes to learn from Friday's scenario.
"I feel lousy for our guys," Datz said. "They battled hard to make things interesting there at the end. I feel bad for the fact that I messed the call up. I didn't get a good read on it, and I need to have a good read on it, especially in crunch time in a situation like that.
"You look at the video and you learn from it. You get better from it and move on."
hot with AquaSox
EVERETT — It was an impressive debut for top Mariner draft pick Mike Zunino.
Zunino, selected by the Mariners with the third overall pick in the 2012 entry draft, doubled into the right-field corner on a 3-0 pitch in his first professional at-bat on Saturday.
Zunino also walked, grounded out to third base and scored two runs in a 6-3 win by the Everett AquaSox over the Tri-City Dust Devils in a Northwest League game.
Zunino, who signed for a reported $4 million, said he was not nervous.
"It's baseball to me," said Zunino, 22. "All I tried to do was help the team out. It was fun. It was nice to get a hit in my first at-bat. They told me to be aggressive. I got a fastball away and didn't try to do too much with it."
For the record: W-L: 37-52 PCT: .416
Freelancer Jim Riley contributed to this report