Justin Dunn Feels Like He Belongs

Justin Dunn didn’t shower.

The 24-year-old righthander is routine-oriented, but he said he felt so uncomfortable when he was called up from Double-A Arkansas to make his major league debut last Sept. 12 that he skipped his ritual of a pregame rinse.

Dunn then walked five of the seven batters he faced against the Reds and allowed two runs before Mariners manager Scott Servais sent him back to the dugout.

Five days later, Dunn tossed two scoreless innings in Pittsburgh, including his first career strikeout.

“When I first got up there, I was scared to even take a shower before the game,” Dunn said. “It’s something I kind of do to wash the day away and kind of lock in. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that at first . . .

“Once I got the first strikeout under my belt, things slowed down. I felt more comfortable and I felt more like myself, which is the biggest thing. I got more comfortable in the locker room and I felt like I finally contributed something.”

In other words, Dunn knew he belonged.

Dunn enters the season with a chance to make the Opening Day roster. Seattle acquired him after the 2018 season when it traded Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets for Jarred Kelenic. The Mets had drafted Dunn out of Boston College in the first round in 2016.

Take away Dunn’s forgettable debut and he pitched six scoreless innings over three outings with five strikeouts, four walks and two hits allowed.

That was after 25 starts at Arkansas, where Dunn went 9-5, 3.55 and struck out a Texas League-leading 158 batters in 131.2 innings.

Dunn is one of the many top prospects the Mariners are counting on to get them to their first postseason appearance since 2001, though many expect 2020 to be another rebuilding season.

Dunn said he and some other players were part of an organizational leadership summit where that topic came up.

“We need to, in our clubhouse, have World Series expectations,” Dunn said. “If we believe in ourselves we can do it. As long as we believe in ourselves, we don’t care what anybody else says.”


— After more than 32 months between facing live batters, righthander Sam Carlson pitched for the first time on Feb. 21 in his recovery from Tommy John surgery and multiple setbacks. The 21-year-old threw 20 pitches. Farm director Andy McKay had said Carlson, the club’s 2017 second-rounder out of high school, might start the season in extended spring training with the possibility of pitching for short-season Everett in the summer.

— The Mariners claimed 24-year-old outfielder Jose Siri on waivers from the Reds. He spent last season splitting time between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville, but the organization designated him for assignment when it signed free agent Nick Castellanos.


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