J-Rod blasts monster HR, finishes shy of cycle

Kelenic makes strides against lefties, goes 2-for-3

April 6th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Those anxiously waiting on Julio Rodríguez's status for the Opening Day roster will have to wait a little longer, but J-Rod kept that crowd entertained with yet another marvel on Sunday.

His 115-mph homer in his first spring at-bat and the inside-the-parker he legged out were impressive, but J-Rod one-upped himself by going 3-for-4 and finishing a triple shy of the cycle before being pulled for a pinch-runner in the seventh inning during Seattle’s 10-8 win against the Royals at Surprise Stadium.

When the dust settled, Rodríguez brought his Cactus League slash line to .419/.471/.839, leading the team by a mile with a 1.310 OPS. Overall, he’s gone 13-for-31 in 12 games, with just two remaining before the Mariners head to Minnesota for Opening Day on Friday.

Will he be on that charter? As if it wasn’t a likelihood already, after Sunday’s epic showing, it’d be a shock if he wasn’t.

However, manager Scott Servais said earlier Sunday that the club is still in the process of having conversations with the players that won’t break camp, and that those likely won’t wrap until after Monday’s game against the D-backs. He indicated that roster battles for the final spots in the bullpen will go to the final day, Tuesday, meaning it’s possible that the club could hold out announcing their position-player contingent until then, too. The Opening Day roster isn’t formally due until the morning of.

“We’re still working,” Servais said. “We will go right to the end on the bullpen situation. I’d like everything cleared and cleaned up by end-of-day [Monday] is my hope.”

J-Rod’s unconfirmed status certainly will make the final days of an already exciting Mariners camp all the more interesting as the club heads into a season of expectations after a 90-win campaign in 2021.

But before looking ahead to the future, the present is worth unpacking more.

At the site of his most notable homer last spring, Rodríguez mirrored that missile with a solo shot to the deepest part of the right-center-field berm. There was no Trackman data immediately available Sunday, but one team official humorously offered, “best estimate is ‘hard’ and ‘far.’”

Take a look:

Then compare it to the one at this very venue last spring:

Eerily similar, yeah?

Arguably the most impressive component to Rodríguez's power is his ability to drive balls with authority beyond the deepest part of the opposite field; with all that top spin, they just keep carrying. That’ll play at T-Mobile Park.

After J-Rod, Kelenic unloads
J-Rod’s long ball on Sunday might not have even been the afternoon’s most impressive homer, as one inning later, Jarred Kelenic unloaded a two-run shot to straightaway center that likely exceeded 430 feet.

Kelenic finished 2-for-3, having also ripped a single to center in the fourth. Both hits were against lefties -- Daniel Lynch and then Amir Garrett -- who were particularly tough on him in his rookie year. He had a .490 OPS against southpaws compared to .695 against righties. 

Kelenic hasn’t stood out in the box score this spring, he’s hitting .233/.281/.367 (.648 OPS) after Sunday, but he’s felt solid about his approach.

“Jarred has been in a good spot all spring,” Servais said. “He doesn’t have a ton of hits, but his at-bats have been really good. He [had] hits off the left-handers today, which is great to see. He’s going to have a good year.”