Jon Shields, MVN.com wrote:Seattle to be Aggressive on the Basepaths in ‘08
By Jon Shields | January 26th, 2008
In 2007 our Seattle Mariners had just two baserunners reach double digits in steals. Ichiro stole 37 and Adrian Beltre swiped 14. John McLaren is starting his first season as the Mariners’ skipper, and he is ready to get more aggressive on the basepaths in 2008.
Back at the Winter Meetings McLaren was asked how many bases Ichiro could steal. “Let’s just say 80 to start with,” he responded. “Let’s go there.”
“I think Betancourt has got the capabilities of being a 20-plus stolen base guy,” McLaren was also quoted as saying in the same media session.
Thursday at the annual Spring Training luncheon hosted at Safeco Field, McLaren backed up his statements. “Ichiro can walk backwards and steal 40 bases, he’s on base more than anybody.”
The manager talked about being aggressive all game long, and having a “daredevil” or “riverboat gambler” attitude on the basepaths next season.
“I want Betancourt running more for sure,” he said, also mentioning Adam Jones and Jose Lopez. He continued a few minutes later, “I would like to see Betancourt stealing some bases– 20, 30, 40. I mean, he’s got that type of talent.”
Will Ichiro steal 80 bases? I doubt it, but he may set a new career high if Mac continues to emphasize the running game. Yuniesky Betancourt, despite swiping just five bases last season, actually does have some stealing capabilities. He stole 20 in his first pro year back in 2005 between AA San Antonio, AAA Tacoma and Seattle (161 games total).
Seattle also announced on Thursday that they are planning on bringing in Rich Amaral as one of the Spring Training guest coaches. Amaral meant to Mariners teams of the 1990s what Willie Bloomquist means to this current team. He didn’t get a lot of playing time, but when he did it could be at any given position and he knew how to swipe a base in crucial situations. Amaral stole almost 100 bases for the Mariners between 1992 and 1998 in limited action. Amaral, along with fellow guest coach Tony Phillips, will be working with the players on their stealing technique.
It should be an exciting year if McLaren sticks to his guns and gets these guys running. There is nothing quite like watching a runner take matters into his own hands, racing the catcher’s throw to second base.