How fast is too fast for 21-year-old outfielder Jarred Kelenic?
That was the question facing the Mariners at summer camp, because Kelenic turned what should have been the prudent decision to leave him off the 30-man Opening Day roster into a tempting one when he showed up even more filled out than he was in spring training.
“We need to be smart here,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said of their outfielder acquired from the Mets for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano after he was drafted sixth overall in 2018 out of Waukesha (Wis.) West High. “There’s no question he’s going to be fun to watch in a Mariners uniform for a long time. But oftentimes you see players who get rushed through a little bit, and they can really take a step backward.
“We don’t want that to happen to Jarred. We want to make sure the time is right for him and for us.”
That’s especially relevant considering the glut of former Mariners prospects who never met expectations. Kelenic chuckled and appeared to bite his lower lip when asked after he hit two homers in an intrasquad game in summer camp if he can be patient if the Mariners don’t rush him to the big leagues.
He then paused and offered a seemingly reined response.
“You know, I’m just taking it one day at a time,” Kelenic said.
Instead, he has let his work ethic do much of the talking. Between the end of spring training and the start of summer camp, the outfielder occupied himself by working out.
“You don’t have a lot to do during quarantine,” Kelenic said. “So I would wake up, go hit, go in the gym and work out like crazy.
“At the same time with the flexibility I had with the facilities I had (at his house), I could do my sprinting and stuff, so it wasn’t like I was getting too bulky. I came in stronger for summer camp than I did spring training, which is something I take pride in.”
— Outfielder Julio Rodriguez fractured his left wrist during a team workout. The 19-year-old did not need surgery but was expected to be out of baseball activity for four to six weeks. Rodriguez was selected to the Mariners’ 60-man player pool in June, though he arrived to their summer camp late after clearing protocols.
— Rookie outfielder Kyle Lewis, who looked healthy and was running better in center field after multiple knee surgeries, hit home runs in each of the Mariners’ first two games to start the season. That gave him eight homers in his first 20 major league games since he was called up last September from Double-A. The only other Seattle player with more homers his first 20 games in the big leagues was Alvin Davis (nine) in 1984 on his way to American League Rookie of the Year.