Seattle Mariners’ Lack of Hitting Depth About to be Exposed
Hamstring injuries are a fickle thing, and depending on the grade or severity of the strain, Hart could miss anywhere between 4-8 weeks. A trip to the disabled list is almost inevitable. Though hitting only .210 on the season, he is a veteran presence who was for the most part hitting cleanup in the designated hitter role for the Mariners. Manager Lloyd McClendon will now have to shuffle his lineup and hope for the best.
But Seattle lacks depth at the plate and has been getting by in ball games on the strength of their pitching in 2014. SS Brad Miller is still struggling mightily hitting only .154, so it might be time again for the Nick Franklin experiment to continue. The 23-year-old infielder is slashing an impressive .376/.481/.633 right now at Triple-A Tacoma. However, in 2013 Franklin had 369 ABs in The Show and slashed a disappointing .225/.303/.382, all while striking out at a dreadful rate of 27.4 percent in all of his MLB plate appearances. Franklin had a brief stay with the Mariners already in 2014, but he went only two for 16 before being demoted to free up a roster spot for OF Cole Gillespie since OF James Jones had been outproducing Franklin.
In terms of experience, OF/1B/DH Logan Morrison is probably the best fit to fill in for Hart should he miss any time. But he too is suffering from a hamstring injury and has been on the disabled list since mid-April. Right now, prospect D.J. Peterson had recently been tearing the cover off the ball in High-A for the Desert Mavericks, but he is only 22 and needs more time to develop.
The Mariners are in a tough spot, and the loss of Hart will have a noticeable downward affect on the team’s run production. McClendon’s management skills will be further tested, and the rest of May and some of June will not be a walk in the park for him, especially if there are further setbacks to the pitching staff or the current rotation begins to struggle.