Seattle Mariners

Kyle Seager picked as Mariners’ recipient of Heart & Hustle Award

Kyle Seager
Kyle Seager Courtesy

Third baseman Kyle Seager’s style of play continues to attract the attention of former players as he was picked as the Mariners’ recipient for the Heart & Hustle Award for a second straight year.

“It’s something I don’t take lightly,” he said. “I remember guys in the past who got it. That’s definitely good company to be in. Just to be nominated is an honor. It’s humbling.”

The award is given by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and seeks to recognize current players for their “passion, desire, and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field.”

Manager Lloyd McClendon said Seager “epitomizes everything that award is all about. ... wish I had more like him.”

An overall winner from the 30 club winners will be announced Nov. 10 in New York based on a vote by MLBPAA members, current players and fans.

The previous winners were David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio (2006, 2007), Grady Sizemore (2008), Albert Pujols (2009), Roy Halladay (2010), Torii Hunter (2011), Mike Trout (2012), Dustin Pedroia (2013) and Josh Harrison (2014).

RARE SLAM

Franklin Gutierrez’s grand slam was the second of his career and just the second by a pinch-hitter in Mariners history.

Gutierrez’s previous slam was May 27, 2008, while playing for the Indians against the Chicago White Sox in Cleveland. It capped a five-run first inning against Mark Buehrle in an 8-2 victory.

Ben Broussard has the only other pinch slam in Mariners’ history. It occurred April 21, 2007, in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Angels in Anaheim. Broussard connected against Scot Shields.

READY TO BREAK OUT?

Early Tuesday, McClendon said he sensed Nelson Cruz was ready to reignite his power swing.

“He got fatigued,” McClendon said. “The hands started to drop. But you see the hands back up again. He’s in a good position to hit. I suspect he’s going to break out of it any day now.”

Quite a prediction.

Cruz unloaded a 455-foot homer into the second tier of shrubbery beyond the center-field wall in the Mariners’ 11-9 victory over the Tigers. Told of McClendon’s pregame comments, Cruz smiled.

“I guess he was right,” Cruz said. “Hopefully, he says that again tomorrow.”

Cruz leads the Mariners with 22 homers, but he hit 13 of those his first 24 games. Before Tuesday, he had hit just three in his last 45 games.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

The Mariners entered Tuesday with the American League’s worst record, which makes them ripe for rumors and speculation. Such as this:

Peter Gammons of MLB.com reported on Twitter there are “three people who've said that Cubs VP Jason McLeod has a great shot at the Mariners GM job.”

That’s all. Nothing more.

McLeod certainly fits the profile of a strong candidate for any club seeking a general manager. He currently serves as the Cubs’ senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting.

Then again, the Mariners still have a general manager in Jack Zduriencik, who has held the post since Oct. 22, 2008. And Zduriencik received a multi-year extension last August, although the number of years was not specified.

DRAFT LOTTERY

Will the Mariners get a extra pick, as they did this year, in the 2016 draft through the competitive-balance lottery? They’ll find out Wednesday.

The Mariners are eligible for one of six Round B picks, which occur after the regular second round, because they received revenue-sharing funds last year from Major League Baseball.

There are 12 clubs eligible for one of six Round A picks, which are slotted after the first round, because they either rank among the 10 smallest markets or generate one of the 10 smallest revenue pools.

Those 12: Arizona, Cleveland, Colorado, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Miami, Milwaukee,

Oakland, Pittsburgh, San Diego, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. The six clubs that don’t get a Round A pick will join the Mariners, Baltimore and Minnesota in a lottery for the six Round B picks.

The Mariners used a Round B pick in June to select Oregon State pitcher Andrew Moore with the 72nd overall selection.

OPENING WITH FOUR

Only twice before Tuesday had the Mariners scored at least four runs in the first inning — and both times, they cruised to easy victories.

They scored five runs on June 13 in the first inning of an 8-1 victory at Houston, and they got four on May 12 in the first inning of an 11-4 victory over San Diego at Safeco Field.

This time was different. The Mariners squandered their early lead and needed Franklin Gutierrez’s pinch grand slam in the eighth inning to pull out an 11-9 victory over the Tigers.

GOPHER-ITIS

The Mariners opened the season by allowing the fewest homers of any American League club in April — 14 in 22 games.

Since May 1 … duck!

The Mariners have allowed 87 in their last 72 games in boosting their season total to 101. That’s closing in on Detroit’s league-worst total of 104.

LOOKING BACK

It was 15 years ago Wednesday — July 22, 2000 — that the Mariners experienced the first rain delay in a home game in franchise history.

The 54-minute stoppage occurred during the a 13-5 victory over Texas when a computer problem prevented the roof at Safeco Field from closing for 20 minutes.

Many fans in the crowd of 44,381 were also drenched. The $517.6 million facility was barely 1 year old at the time.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Tigers continue their four-game series at 4:08 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday at Comerica Park. Left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-3, 2.51) will face Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 4.55). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM ESPN.

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