Mike Zunino getting trial by fire
With his fourth start in the past five games, the team is finding out quickly how the young catcher adapts to the majors.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ANAHEIM, Calif. – So much for easing Mariners catcher Mike Zunino into the big leagues.
Zunino on Monday night started behind the plate for the fourth time in his team’s last five games and for the third time in four days. He entered the day 3 for 10 (.300) with a home run and a walk and having shown no signs of a defensive lapse.
In fact, Zunino has been so busy trying to get to know things, there hasn’t been time for lapses. Not only is he still getting to know pitchers better, he also needs to figure out the finer details of big league life – things like dress code on charter flights, hotel room procedure and times for meetings.
That was a big step, he said, accomplished with help from Kyle Seager, Raul Ibanez and a few others.
“I’m just trying to go about that and handle my business the right way so everything goes smoothly,’’ he said. “That’s the biggest thing. Just getting used to all the small stuff. It makes life a lot easier when you can just focus on playing the game.’’
To help him with on-field stuff, he leans heavily on new catcher Henry Blanco.
“Just what he goes about during the game, what he looks for in hitters,’’ Zunino said.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Zunino can learn a lot from Blanco, 41, acquired last week.
“You talk about a guy who knows how to act, Henry is right up there at the top of the list, as well as a few of our other guys,’’ Wedge said. “Obviously, at the same position, that’s the difference. They spend a lot of time together. There’s a right way to go about your business both on and off the field up here.’’
• Jason Bay did not start Monday despite the Angels throwing a left-handed starter in Jason Vargas. Wedge said Bay developed “a knot” in his right hamstring during Sunday’s game and it had not healed by Monday.
Endy Chavez started in right field instead for the Mariners, who are dealing with numerous aches and injuries. Wedge said the team remains close to getting Justin Smoak back and that general manager Jack Zduriencik wanted to see him play one more time for AAA Tacoma on Monday in Sacramento.
• Mariners starting pitchers entered play on Monday having walked just 2.02 batters per game. They were on pace for the third-lowest walk rate in the American League since 1921. Only the 2005 Twins (1.60) and 2003 Yankees (1.96) averaged fewer walks per nine innings.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.