04/01/12 7:31 PM ET
Seager wearing multiple hats for Mariners
By Jim Thomas / MLB.com
Carp. Ackley. Smoak. Seager.
The combined age of Mike Carp, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager is only 98, and they have played a combined 201 games in the Major Leagues.
The one with the fewest games (22) to his credit -- Seager -- is perhaps also the most versatile of the group. A shortstop in high school, Seager, 24, played second at the University of North Carolina and during his two seasons in the Mariners' Minor League system.
During this Spring Training, Seager has spent considerable time at third base, has also played second and first. That versatility came in handy for the Mariners when they opened the regular season last week in Tokyo.
Left fielder Carp injured his shoulder making a diving attempt to catch a drive by Oakland's Kurt Suzuki in the opener, and was later placed on the 15-day disabled list. Enter Seager, who played third in the second game when Chone Figgins moved from third into Carp's spot in left.
"It was exciting," Seager said on Sunday before the Mariners' 6-4 win over Kansas City at Peoria Sports Complex. "It was my first time breaking camp with the team and my first Opening Day. That was exciting in itself. But then being there in Tokyo, which was a completely different experience all around, with the yelling and how loud it was in the dome and everything, it was just unbelievable."
Manager Eric Wedge had no reservations about putting Seager into the starting lineup at third. But, as evidenced by Wedge starting Seager at second base for Sunday's Cactus League game, the 6-foot, 195-pounder is not likely to find one permanent home in Seattle's infield this season. Seager moved to first base in the seventh and hit a solo homer in a big six-run sixth inning.
"I do like his versatility," the manager said. "We're going to keep [Seager's role] open for right now. We have a lot of guys with some versatility and we're going to let it define itself as we work through the season. The more we can get him playing time, the better of we'll be."
Obviously, that's good news to Seager.
"Wherever they want to put me is fine," he said. "I've been working out mostly at third, playing there most of the time, gotten the majority of the reps there because that's where I need the most work. Second base is what I played in college and in the Minors, so I feel real comfortable there as well. It just comes naturally."
Seager's ability to play several positions wouldn't mean much if he wasn't able to produce at the plate. That was not an issue during his two seasons in the Minor Leagues. Seager started at Class A High Desert in 2010, and all he did was win the California League batting title with a .345 average.
Last year, Seager hit .312 with Double-A Jackson, then hit .387 in 24 games at Triple-A Tacoma.
Upon being called up to Seattle last year, Seager hit .258 (47-for-182), with three homers.
Seager worked on making some adjustments to his swing during the offseason and the results are a .350 (14-for-40) average with three homers and seven RBIs entering Sunday's Cactus League game.
Obviously, moving around the infield doesn't negatively impact Seager's performance with the bat.
"I think you try to separate the two; they don't have to be connected," Seager said of offense and defense. "Bouncing around is something I've done a lot, so it doesn't bother me at the plate.
"I feel good; it's been a good spring. I made a couple of adjustments this offseason and I've just been trying to get comfortable. I don't know if [the swing] is ever where you perfectly want it to be, but I'm feeling very comfortable right now and seeing results, so I'm excited to start the season."
Those results have not escaped the attention of his manager.
"He's done a good job this spring," Wedge said. "He's a good player, good hitter and good worker. He's worked hard to get strong and more flexible. He's young into his career and we're still trying to figure out what kind of Major Leaguer he's going to be. But he just keeps getting better, which is what you like to see."
Seager knows the Mariners are going to have a tough time competing in the American League West, with the two-time defending division champion Rangers and the beefed-up Angels. But he says the Mariners may surprise a lot of people.
"We're in a really good division so it's easy for people to look at the top two teams there and be high on them, and they should be -- they're very good ballclubs," Seager said. "We have a young team and we're not as well-known as some teams' players, but we have a lot of confidence in each other. I've played with a lot of these guys coming up through the Minors and in college, so I know what these guys can do. We have confidence in each other and so I think we'll do better than a lot of people think."
Jim Thomas is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.