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Notes: Crawford's mission; 4 not yet at camp

@gregjohnsmlb
February 18, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- While J.P. Crawford showed considerable defensive improvement last year and established himself as the Mariners’ shortstop of the future, the 25-year-old wore down physically over the course of the season and was told he needed to get stronger. So Crawford made that his mission, bought a house

PEORIA, Ariz. -- While J.P. Crawford showed considerable defensive improvement last year and established himself as the Mariners’ shortstop of the future, the 25-year-old wore down physically over the course of the season and was told he needed to get stronger.

So Crawford made that his mission, bought a house near the Mariners’ training facility in Peoria and spent the winter working out with strength and conditioning coach James Clifton.

“I put on 10 pounds,” Crawford said Tuesday after the club’s first full-squad workout. “Me and Cliffy have been going at it the whole offseason. He pushed me hard, but I needed it. I feel the difference on the field already. Balls are coming off my bat a lot harder now and throwing is a lot easier, too.”

The Mariners acquired Crawford a year ago in the deal that sent Jean Segura to the Phillies.

After being promoted from Triple-A Tacoma in May, he broke out with a vengeance in June, posting a .338/.413/.569 line with 17 RBIs and a pair of homers in 16 games.

But Crawford batted just .178 in 60 games over the final three months and missed time with a strained right hamstring, leading the Mariners to advise him of the need to beef up and better prepare for the rigors of a full season in the Majors.

“I’ve known I needed to get stronger, it’s just a matter of staying consistent with it over the offseason and not slacking off,” he said. “This is the first year I lifted all offseason and I feel great. I can’t wait to start playing.”

The Mariners have high expectations for Crawford, who was a first-round Draft pick by Philadelphia in 2013 and ranked as the Phillies’ top prospect from 2014-18. Manager Scott Servais says he just needs to continue growing and learning.

“I think the sky is the limit for J.P., I really do,” Servais said. “Why can’t he win a Gold Glove? Why can’t he play in an All-Star Game? He has that type of ability. Along the way you have to keep making adjustments, listen to the people around you, trust the people around you.

"I do think the sky is the limit for him. He can be as good as he wants to be. There’s a lot of work and effort that needs to be put into it. And he’s not the only one. There’s more than a few guys in that clubhouse that I can say the same thing about.”

Gordon still among the missing
Second baseman Dee Gordon was among four Mariners not in camp as the first full-squad workout took place Tuesday. Gordon is still in Florida with his wife as they await the birth of their first child.

“Dee should be in in a couple days,” Servais said. “He’s still waiting for that baby to come. He’s got other things on his mind, but Dee will be ready to go when he gets here. I know he’s had a really good offseason in working out and he’ll be ready to roll.”

Outfielder Mitch Haniger also has yet to report as he’s in California recovering from last week’s microdiscectomy surgery.

The other missing Mariners are pitcher Manny Bañuelos and infielder Alen Hanson, two players who recently signed Minor League contracts with camp invites, but have been unable to travel to the United States yet due to visa issues.

Even minus those four, the Mariners have 66 players in camp, which Servais said is the biggest group in his five seasons in Seattle.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.