ANAHEIM -- One of the advantages of getting more athletic in the outfield this season for Seattle became evident Friday as speedster Jarrod Dyson moved to center field to give the struggling Leonys Martin a day off and immediately produced an outstanding play with a sliding catch and double play
ANAHEIM -- One of the advantages of getting more athletic in the outfield this season for Seattle became evident Friday as speedster Jarrod Dyson moved to center field to give the struggling Leonys Martin a day off and immediately produced an outstanding play with a sliding catch and double play throw.
Dyson was quick to point out the move was temporary, but he is happy to play center when asked.
"No matter where you play, you just have to go out there and make plays and that's what we try to do as a group," said Dyson after the Mariners' 5-1 loss to the Angels. "I'm pretty comfortable there, but that's Leonys' spot. I play left and that's what I'm prepared to do. I think the majority of outfielders here can play center field if we need."
The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder flashed his speed in the sixth inning when Jose Pujols sliced a low liner to the right-center gap. Dyson gave chase, covering 72 feet in 4.3 seconds and sliding to glove a ball that only gets caught 46 percent of the time, according to Statcast™ Catch Probability analysis.
Dyson then popped up and fired to first to double up Michael Trout.
"Great play," said manager Scott Servais. "A very athletic play to get up and make an accurate throw to double him up. He can do those type of things. He's a fun player, an exciting player with the speed tools he's got."
In the Statcast™ rating system, the 46 percent Catch Probability grades out as a 4-star catch, which is a level of play Dyson made in eight of nine such opportunities last year in Kansas City. And that speaks to Servais' belief that the 32-year-old is one of the better outfield defenders in the game and a valuable weapon anywhere he's placed.
Dyson started in left field in Seattle's first four games in Houston. But Servais wanted to give Martin a day to collect himself at the plate and didn't have to look far in finding a ready solution in center.
Servais gave backup outfielder Guillermo Heredia his first start in left field. Heredia can play center as well, but he opted to go with Dyson there.
"It's the speed factor," Servais said. "Jarrod grades out as one of the best center fielders in the game. Leonys does a great job, too. We're fortunate to have the speed we have out there. But it was kind of a no-brainer, let's put Dyson in center and let him run around."
Martin also is an outstanding defender and the Mariners were simply giving him a chance to work with hitting coach Edgar Martinez on some things after getting off to a 1-for-16 start with seven strikeouts in Houston.
"It is a chance to give him a break and regroup," Servais said. "He made a few adjustments coming into spring and I think all players want to continue to add to their game, but it's important they don't get away from what they do good. Leonys had a good year for us last year and we need to get him back in that spot."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
@GregJohnsMLB]() and listen to his podcast.