CAMP BATTLE: LEFT FIELD
Does the Trammell injury clear things up? Or cloud it more than ever?
AJ Pollock is going to play some left field. How much he plays is entirely up to his competition. The Mariners mean to capitalize upon what Pollock does best. And these days, less is more for the 35-year old. Pollock can still hit lefties (286/316/619/935 just last year). Pollock can not still play every day. The plan is to keep AJ fresh by primarily utilizing the best of his skills. So, Pollock is not battling for playing time this Spring. In truth, management is hopeful they won't have to give him more. But that means someone else has to step up, perhaps someones.
The conversation begins with Jarred Kelenic. The former top prospect is on a mission to live up to the lofty expectations that have accompanied him since he was drafted 6th overall coming out of high school in 2018. To this point (though it is early in his career), he's failed. He'll be given every opportunity to earn even more than a platoon role with Pollock in left field, but he needs to earn at least that. And the path to certain playing time just became clearer. Taylor Trammell is injured.
Trammell's bosses have been gushing about the 25-year old's offseason work. And to see him Monday (our first day at camp), the work shows. Trammell looks thin on tv, but dude is yoked. And these days, he's looking bigger and better than ever--6'2" 220 with power and speed. The difference between last season and this season is noticeable.
"I definitely feel I had my best offseason," Trammell told us Monday. And he might very well have been on his way to winning the platoon role alongside Pollock. But then bad luck struck. Trammell injured his right hand on an awkward swing. Hamate bone injury that required surgery. He's out six to seven weeks.
"Oh, I was angry," Trammell told us. "But I told myself I was only going to let it make me angry for one day." Then, he went back to work. "Because I couldn't do everything I wanted to do physically, I went to work on my mind."
He read. Power of the mind is as important to the baseball player as power of the body, and Trammell is aware enough to realize it. "I just want to get back on the field with my teammates. I want to win. I want to win the World Series."
Trammell will be back soon, but he has lost his chance to compete in Spring Training. Kelenic could still play himself into an everyday role, but, for now, with Trammell no longer in the fight, it seems highly unlikely that he won't, at least, achieve platoon status.
The intrigue of "Camp Battle: Left Field" might already be over... for now.