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Hitting drill helps Mariners build chemistry

MLB.com

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The purpose of the two-day situational hitting exercise the Mariners wrapped up Monday afternoon, two days before the start of Cactus League play, was much more than just fun and games.

"I am trying to create more of a family atmosphere. Team is huge," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Teams that win usually have good chemistry. We have so many new players here that I thought it would be the most important thing to get accomplished, especially early in camp, and I think it's gone OK so far."

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The purpose of the two-day situational hitting exercise the Mariners wrapped up Monday afternoon, two days before the start of Cactus League play, was much more than just fun and games.

"I am trying to create more of a family atmosphere. Team is huge," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Teams that win usually have good chemistry. We have so many new players here that I thought it would be the most important thing to get accomplished, especially early in camp, and I think it's gone OK so far."

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The rules of the game were simple: The teams were awarded or penalized points for successful at-bats with runners on base. The roster was divided into two teams for the competition, one led by designated hitter Nelson Cruz and the other by second baseman Robinson Cano.

"It's probably more of a baserunning drill than it is an actual situationally handling the bat," Servais said. "You get both out of it. The nice thing for me to see was the intensity and effort guys gave. They were sliding and running hard. It was competitive and it went pretty well."

Cano's team, made up of Nori Aoki, Steve Baron, Steve Clevenger, Adam Lind, Ed Lucas, Ketel Marte, Jesus Montero, Shawn O'Malley, Daniel Robertson, Stefen Romero, Kyle Seager, Tyler Smith and Mike Zunino, finished the first day with an 85-73 lead.

Cruz's team was made up of Mike Baxter, Benji Gonzalez, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Iannetta, Marcus Littlewood, Dae-Ho Lee, Steven Lerud, Leonys Martin, Dario Pizzano, Boog Powell, Gaby Sanchez, Luis Sardinas, Seth Smith and Chris Taylor.

One player from Cano's team got a second at-bat each inning because he has one fewer player.

"There are different ways to do it," Servais said. "I've been in camps where there are intrasquads and I've been in camps where there are not. I like the concept of doing something that we did out there. You get to see team building and you get to see a lot of baserunning. Baserunning is really hard to practice."

Cano's team's won the competition, 185-178. The Mariners open Cactus League play against the Padres on Wednesday.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB.

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