Mariners' best hitters in spring likely won't make team

Matt Tuiasosopo and Mike Sweeney are tearing up spring training, but their fates were probably settled months ago.
Matt Tuiasosopo and Mike Sweeney are tearing up spring training, but their fates were probably settled months ago.

Baseball, of course, is the ultimate stat game, odd given that the national pastime has just five components: throw, catch, hit and run . . . oh, and think.

Ponder, then, what has emerged as the most peculiar statistic of the infant spring-training season of the Seattle Mariners. Through the Ides of March, the M'ꀙs had sent 39 players (two of them pitchers) to the plate. Of those, 33 had at least one of the team's 116 Cactus League hits.

Here's the odd part: Just two of the 33 players accounted for nearly 21 percent of the team'ꀙs hits.

Here's the odder part: Neither of these two hitters has any assurance of making the M's opening-day roster.

Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Matt Tuiasosopo and Mike Sweeney. Each has 12 base hits through March 15. Tui, part of the organization since he was drafted in 2004, was 12 for 25 and a distant second in the club'ꀙs batting-average category. His .480 mark was a full 270 points lower than the (we take a brief implausibility pause here) .750 of Sweeney, whose 12 hits happened during just 16 at-bats.

At any level beyond Little League, 12 for 16 is kind of like a PGA golfer shooting four scores of 59 at a tournament. It isn't perfect (a perfect 18 has never been achieved in golf beyond the level of putt-putt) but 12 for 16 is closer to perfection than it seems.

Unfortunately for Matt and Mike, their fates seem to have been decided during the off-season. No matter how well Tui does at Cactus camp, he's part of a prodigious group trying to become utility infielder for a team that has its everyday line-up long since set.

As for Sweeney, the charismatic "clubhouse guy" from last season, the 36-year-old one-time perennial all-star player wasn't even invited to the M's camp. When (rather than if) he doesn't catch on with Seattle, Sweeney at his present rate seems assured of interesting another big-league club looking for an able occasional batter and great dugout raconteur.

Tuiasosopo, barring the injury of another Mariner, wouldn't figure to be part of the opening-day major-league roster. As impressive as his dozen hits may be, they equal the total number of big-league hits the 23-year-old former Woodinville High standout has amassed during his 66 regular-season at-bats with the M's.


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