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Dipoto wants Mariners to be more athletic in outfield

Club has reportedly talked to Yankees about acquiring All-Star Gardner

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has made it clear his club would like to get more athletic in the outfield, and the New York Post reported Wednesday that the club has talked to the Yankees about acquiring center fielder Brett Gardner.

Last week, the Mariners acquired center-field prospect Boog Powell from the Rays, but he just got his feet wet at Triple-A last season. Austin Jackson, who started 99 games in center for Seattle last season, was traded to the Cubs in August.

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The club's void in center field remains a big focus.

"We need to be more athletic in the outfield," Dipoto said Wednesday at the General Managers Meetings at the Boca Resort & Club. "We need to cover ground a little bit better than we have the last couple of years, particularly last year. It's unfair because there were some moves that were made. Austin Jackson obviously was traded away, and that left a void. Left field is in good shape with Seth Smith and Franklin Gutierrez.

"We hope to bring [Gutierrez] back and make him a part of the plan again," Dipoto said a matter of hours before the club announced a one-year deal with Gutierrez, who hit 15 home runs in 171 at-bats last season and won an American League Gold Glove Award in 2010.

Video: [email protected]: Gutierrez pounds a solo homer to left-center

Powell hit a combined .295 with a .385 on-base percentage last season at Double-A and Triple-A, hitting .257 with a .360 on-base percentage in 56 games for Durham.

"We believe he's a future top-of-the-lineup catalyst," Dipoto said. "I don't think he's very far away. We also don't want to [go into the season with] the only option [being] an unproven everyday guy."

Despite the roster shortcomings, Dipoto likes the core built around Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker.

"We have to figure out how to augment that club," Dipoto said. "We do need to get a little bit longer in the lineup. How that happens is a little bit at the top and a little bit at the bottom, adding those guys that can get on base and stretch the lineup. Then we need to get deeper as a pitching staff. One through 12 doesn't cover it anymore, which is why it was key to pick up a guy like Nate Karns, to get that extra left-handed guy in C.J. Riefenhauser, why that's going to be a focus for us going forward."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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