Mariners using Statcast to gain edge on bases

Iwakuma slotted as No. 2 starter; Powell makes nice catch

Mariners using Statcast to gain edge on bases

PEORIA, Ariz. -- There's a lot of new statistical data available in baseball these days, and Mariners manager Scott Servais feels one aspect of that can help his team be better on the bases.

Servais says the Mariners are using Statcast™ data on precisely how big a lead baserunners are taking and will use that to help work with players.

"Obviously, we have a lot more speed than we had last year," Servais said. "I think the ability of guys to understand how to push the envelope to get a little more and the value of getting a little bit bigger lead [is important]. A foot or six inches may not sound like a big deal, but when you are trying to score somebody from first on a double, it's a big deal, especially the secondary lead."

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Servais addressed the team about baserunning on Monday morning. The Mariners went into Monday's games leading the Cactus League in stolen bases, but Servais is looking a lot deeper than that.

"With the data they have now at MLB, we have everybody's average lead at first base over the last three years and how does that rank," he said. "We have a number of our basestealers that are below average [in their leads]. If you are a basestealer, you should be quick enough to get out there and have enough athleticism to get back to the base.

"What I'd really like to see -- it's OK to get picked off in Spring Training. I know the fans go crazy and say, 'Here we go again with the Mariners' baserunning.' But, no that's OK to do that in Spring Training and get a comfort level, then try to push it on guys when we get to Texas on April 4."

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The available data shows more than just how fast a player runs.

"From a coaching standpoint, now we have enough to understand that Kyle Seager is aggressive, but maybe not the fastest guy and he likes to run the bases," Servais said. "But Kyle Seager gets one of the best secondary leads of anybody on our team when you look at the data.

"We have the data and let's just use it. Part of our job as a coaching staff -- we maybe won't understand the data all of the time, but when you have the raw data and numbers, then how do you put it into play? That's our job. How do we get better and use the information that we have."

Worth noting

• While Felix Hernandez is set for his ninth Opening Day start, Servais said that Hisashi Iwakuma likely will start the second game of the regular season in Texas.

That would set Wade Miley up as the likely No. 3 starter, followed by young right-hander Taijuan Walker and then whoever wins the battle for the fifth spot between James Paxton and Nathan Karns. Servais said he does like to separate pitchers with similar throwing styles, if possible, so they don't pitch back to back.

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"I think if Kuma pitches behind Felix, they're certainly different styles vs. what Taijuan brings. And you've got the lefty in the mix there somewhere, or two lefties if Pax is in there," Servais said. "You want to separate the lefties, obviously, if you can."

Boog Powell made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch on a deep drive to left by Cristhian Adames of the Rockies in the fourth inning of Monday's 6-4 loss.

"Awesome," Servais said. "He can really cover some ground. I don't know how he caught that thing. It's tough to play outfield down here, as bright and windy as it is. Nice play by him."

Powell's grab at the wall

Franklin Gutierrez crushed his third Cactus League homer in the sixth inning against the Rockies in a 2-for-3 day that lifted him to .462 (6-for-13) with three homers in six games.

"Guti has been really good all spring," Servais said. "It's crazy how much power he has to right-center field."

Gutierrez goes back-to-back

• Miley will pitch Tuesday against Minor League hitters in an informal game on a back field at Peoria rather than facing the rival Angels in his normal turn Tuesday. Minor League camp had its first full-squad workout Monday and official games aren't underway yet.

• Reliever Tony Zych and catcher Steve Clevenger both were sick on Monday and sent home from camp early in the morning. Zych had been scheduled to pitch an inning against the D-backs in the afternoon, but was scratched after getting hit with what he believed was food poisoning.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.