Seattle Mariners

Once a pitcher’s park, Safeco becoming a hit

Safeco Field’s reputation as a pitchers’ park is taking a beating.

Entering Tuesday, Safeco had yielded 199 homers through 68 games for an average of 2.93 per game. The Mariners had hit 99 and given up 100.

The 199 total and the 2.93 average are the highest totals in baseball.

Nelson Cruz leads all players this year with 15 homers at Safeco Field, followed by Robinson Cano with 14 and Adam Lind with 13.

This year’s totals are a sizable jump from last season, when there were 180 homers hit at Safeco for an average of 2.22 a game. The Mariners hit 90 and gave up 90 in their home park. Both totals ranked seventh among the 30 ballparks.

This year’s total at Safeco Field is already a record for a full season, but topping the 200-homer barrier occurred four times at the Kingdome: 244 in 1997, 237 in 1996 and 218 in 1987 and 1998.

The Mariners also saw 227 homers hit at the home park in 1999. That was the season when they moved July 15 from the Kingdome to Safeco Field. There were 134 homers hit in 39 games at the Kingdome and 93 in 42 games at Safeco.

The rest of the current top five in each category (through Monday):

Total homers: Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati) 196, Camden Yards (Baltimore) 195, Coors Field (Colorado) 187 and Globe Life Park (Texas) 186.

Average per game: Yankee Stadium (New York) 2.85, Great American Ball Park (Cincinnati) 2.84, Camden Yards (Baltimore) 2.79 and Globe Life Park (Texas) 2.70.

CANO NOMINATED

Second baseman Robinson Cano is the Mariners’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. An overall winner from the 30 MLB team’s nominees will be announced next month during the World Series.

“It means a lot if you know the history of Clemente,” Cano said. “The first Latino to play in the big leagues. And all of the great things that he’s done, not only on the field but also off the field. It’s an honor.”

The award seeks to recognize one player each year “who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.”

Cano’s RC22 Foundation, founded in 2011, focuses efforts on youth development and community healthcare.

“I came from a poor town,” Cano said, “and I’ve been there when you grow up, and you don’t have anything or anybody to help you.

“For me, to come all of the way from the Dominican (Republic) and make it to the big leagues, being blessed, I want to give back to the community.”

MLB will hold its 15th annual Roberto Clemente Day on Wednesday in recognition of his achievements and character. Clemente died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972 while delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Starting Wednesday, fans can participate this season in the voting for the first time by posting hashtags on Twitter and Facebook.

Cano’s hashtag is #VoteCano, and fan balloting runs through Oct. 2.

Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen was last year’s recipient.

AOKI RECALLED

The Mariners, as expected, recalled outfielder Nori Aoki from Triple-A Tacoma before Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.

Aoki, 34, returns after going 7 for 31 in eight games for the Rainiers following his Aug. 26 demotion. The Mariners made that move because they foresaw little playing time for Aoki against an anticipated run of games against left-handers.

Players optioned to the minors can’t be recalled for 10 days unless they replace a player placed on the disabled list.

Aoki is batting .265 overall this season with a .333 on-base percentage in 98 big-league games.

WILHELMSEN IMPROVES

Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen reported no problems in his sore back after throwing a 25-pitch bullpen workout before Tuesday’s game. Barring setbacks, he will pitch a simulated inning on Thursday as a final test.

Wilhelmsen experienced spasms in his lower back after a disastrous Aug. 21 appearance against Milwaukee. After resting for three days, he pitched Aug. 25 in Chicago and, the following day, reported renewed pain.

The Mariners placed Wilhelmsen on the disabled list on Aug. 27, retroactive to Aug. 26, which means he is eligible to be activated this weekend.

BANG FOR THE BUCK

Franklin Gutierrez entered Tuesday with 29 homers in 397 at-bats over the past two seasons. Nobody has more homers than Gutierrez over the past two seasons in fewer than 400 at-bats.

Colorado shortstop Trevor Story ranked second with 27 homers in 372 at-bats.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rangers continue their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field. Seattle left-hander Ariel Miranda (2-1, 5.76 ERA) will face Texas right-hander A.J. Griffin (7-3, 4.41).

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

M’s, Rangers play late

Seattle’s game Tuesday night ended after The Olympian went to press. Read all about it at theolympian.com.

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