PEORIA, Ariz.—The Seattle Mariners narrowly missed out on a wild card spot last season, finishing three games back. Heading into 2017, the team’s outlook is optimistic that it will be able to break its 15-year playoff drought.
The Mariners are in a rebound phase, recording one of its highest-win seasons since its historic 116-win season in 2001. Seattle also had its highest attendance in the 2016 season since 2008.
Seattle comes into the 2017 season with a strong pitching rotation including former Cy Young winner Félix Hernández, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton, and a bullpen with rising star Edwin Díaz as its closer. Díaz had an ERA of 2.79 and 18 saves in 49 appearances in 2016.
Other players to keep an eye on during spring training are the infielder trio of Robinson Cano at second, Jean Segura at shortstop and Kyle Seager at third. Cano batted nearly .300 during 2016 and had his highest home run count of his career with 39.
Nelson Cruz has the designated hitter spot all to himself. With 43 home runs in 2016 and an average of .287, Cruz was a reliable hitter for the Mariners. He needs to ensure his at-bats are useful, however, as he struck out 159 times, about 25 percent of his plate appearances.
Seattle’s spring training begins when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15 at Peoria Stadium.