Notes: Lewis heating up; Gilbert easing in

March 20th, 2021

Mariners manager Scott Servais said that “looked as good as he has all spring” after Thursday’s game against the Giants. Then, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year Award winner showed himself up with an even better game in Friday’s 7-6 win over the White Sox.

Lewis timed two offspeed pitches from Lance Lynn and turned them into extra-base hits, including his first Cactus League homer that landed well beyond the left-center-field wall in the third inning and helped spark the Mariners’ comeback from four runs down. He was one of many cogs in a lineup that didn’t have its best spring hitter in Ty France yet still put together arguably its best collective showing of Spring Training -- and against Lynn, one of the AL’s better starters.

“The lineup, it seemed like almost every inning, we were putting runs on the board or we had chances out there with guys in scoring position,” Servais said. “So a lot of good signs offensively. I thought Kyle Lewis again, really starting to get locked in after what we saw last night, and it carried over to tonight's game. Just good at-bats. You know, going deep in counts, getting walks."

Seattle overcame a 5-1 deficit in the second inning thanks in part to two-hit nights from Lewis, Jarred Kelenic, Kyle Seager and Mitch Haniger, who tripled from the leadoff spot. The club entered the night with a middle-of-the-pack .771 OPS this spring, but Servais is encouraged that the offense might be hitting its stride at the right time, with Opening Day less than two weeks away.

“Probably the last, I would say about 10 days down here, I thought the quality of our at-bats really started to rise as guys’ timing got better,” Servais said. “But it's a really good sign to see. Lance Lynn is one of the better pitchers in our league. He's an innings eater. He's got multiple weapons. He's got a really good lively moving fastball. So he's a challenge, and our guys are we're grinding them out tonight.”

Gilbert completes Cactus slate
will not pitch in another Cactus League game this spring, Servais said Friday. Instead, Seattle’s No. 4 prospect will slow his build-up by pitching exclusively in bullpen sessions and possibly simulated games on Peoria Sports Complex back fields. He won’t be ramped back up until he’s reassigned to Minor League Spring Training after the big leaguers depart for Opening Day on April 1.

The Mariners have said from the outset of camp that they planned to bring along the 23-year-old righty slowly, with intent of allocating most of his innings for the second half of the regular season, when he’s expected to be in the big league rotation.

"I just think it's so important how he finishes the season vs. how he starts the season,” Servais said.

Gilbert impressed in his lone Cactus League start on March 7 against the Angels, in which he struck out four -- including Mike Trout looking.

Marco labors vs. White Sox
Opening Day starter wasn’t quite as sharp in his third Spring Training start, but he did reach his 75-pitch threshold and came one out shy of going his scheduled five innings. Gonzales was pulled with two outs in the second inning after giving up five runs, then he came back in the third and finished his outing. Gonzales’ nine hits and five runs tied his 2020 high, but he pitched scoreless ball beyond the second.

Infielders celebrate Perry Hill’s birthday
The Mariners’ infield put together a nice celebration on Friday for beloved coach Perry Hill, who celebrated his 69th birthday. The cake featured a bone in icing, recognizing Hill’s longtime nickname, which dates back to his childhood.

The quick story on the nickname: When Hill was roughly 7 years old, every Saturday night, his family ate fried chicken for dinner. Afterward, Hill would carry the bone around with him the rest of the night for no rhyme or reason. It was just a comfort thing.

“Back in my day you didn't have dishwashers. So after you ate every night, it's kind of like 'Leave It to Beaver' -- when you got through eating, you had to be excused from the table and you carried your plate and put it in the sink and washed dishes the old-fashioned way. … I would eat the leg, then I’d take my plate, put it in the sink. I would grab the bone and pick it up and just start walking around the house. I don't know why.”