Zoning in on Mike Zunino
Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners is a daily series in which we’ll examine one player every day, 30 total, in the lead-up to Opening Day. We’ll explain their role on the field, what they’re like off of it and provide highlights and photos. On deck tomorrow: Steve Clevenger.
For the first time in three seasons, Mike Zunino does not come to Spring Training with the expectations and pressure of being the Opening Day catcher. He’s putting in work all the same, handling the staff and spending a lot of time in the cage, but right now it’s with an eye on the future—a future that’s out beyond April 4th.
“Mike is obviously coming off of a tough year. Chris Iannetta is going to be the catcher if all is right, and he’s healthy,” Jerry Dipoto said at annual pre-Spring Training luncheon. “Mike comes in and we’re not holding him back from whatever he’s going to accomplish.”
“This (year) is going to be about what’s best in the career development of Mike Zunino,” he said. “And (we) are going to make sure that happens.”
The development work began in the offseason, with the hitting summit in Peoria and 10 days staying and hitting with Kyle Seager in North Carolina. It continues here in Spring Training, where he’s spending a lot of time with Mariners hitting coach Edgar Martinez and Triple-A hitting coach Scott Brosius.
“The one thing about Mike is he is open to trying some different things,” said manager Scott Servais. “Mike understands it’s a process, it’s going to take a little time. That’s why we’ve set up a Mike Zunino plan this year, to allow him time to work through it and get some confidence back.”
As the young catcher tells it, the Mariners’ acquisition of two other catchers—Iannetta and then Steve Clevenger from Baltimore—hasn’t dinged his confidence any.
“I know both of them, they’re great catchers, they’re great players and it’s just competition,” Zunino said in speaking with Aaron Goldsmith, Dave Valle and Shannon Drayer on the Hot Stove show. “If you don’t enjoy it, then it’s probably not the right profession for you.”
“I’ve been able to play here a couple years, I’ve been able to catch at this level. I need to make some adjustments hitting but I feel confident in what I’ve done so I just got to go in and play baseball like I know how.”
Off the Field
It’s hard to get Mike Zunino off the field because he’s been around it his entire life. His father, Greg, is a scout with the Cincinnati Reds, previously with the Marlins—and Mike would occasionally tag along with his dad when he went to games.
His mother even, Paola, played as a catcher for the Italian national softball team. It must run in the family.
More in the Zoning in on the 2016 Mariners series
- Norichika Aoki
- Luis Sardinas
- Chris Taylor
- Boog Powell
- Nathan Karns
- Vidal Nuno
- Justin De Fratus
- On deck for tomorrow: Mike Zunino
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