Zoning in on Tony Zych


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: Jesus Montero.

This time last year, Tony Zych was in minor league camp with the Chicago Cubs. He’d played in Double-A for three straight years, and put in the work over the offseason to try to change that, to try to avoid another full year at that level.

“When I was having to repeat, it was like ‘What do I gotta do? what do I gotta do?,'” he said recently in speaking on the Cactus League Report.

Sometimes it takes something big, and in Zych’s case, it wasn’t all on him, as it was the trade to the Mariners just before the 2015 season that made a big difference.

“The trade here really helped,” he said. “I just needed a change of scenery, and kind of was able to step back and then focus harder on little things.”

While a focus on the little things helped, as he said he did make some mechanical adjustments, there was something more in making the big jump from where he was then to where he is now.

“Just how to approach the game, and not putting so much pressure on myself was the big thing,” he said, “I was putting a lot of pressure on myself instead of being able to relax and focus on what I was doing.”

All of it combined for quite the 2015.

He did start back in Double-A with the Jackson Generals, but that stay didn’t last long. After 15 appearances, a 2.16 ERA and holding opponents to just a .186 average, it was on to Tacoma. After a few months there, he was called up to Seattle on September 1st and made his debut on September 4th against Oakland, allowing a couple runs but striking out three in two innings. The punchout was very much part of his game down the stretch.

He struck out 24 batters in his 13 relief appearances spanning 18.1 innings. While his eyes are solely just on making the team, some have started to look at what type of role that would be, not only now, but further down the road in his career.

“We all look at how he’s attacking guys when he takes the mound,” manager Scott Servais said. “The fastball is 95-97 [mph], the slider has been very good for the most part. He’s a two-pitch guy. I like the demeanor as well. He’s not afraid. He’s going to continue to go after them every day. He’s wired like a late-inning reliever.”

Servais said Zych closing is “not in our plans right now,” not with Steve Cishek and Joaquin Benoit there to handle the 9th and 8th, but it’s nice to have someone with that mentality and stuff, regardless of what inning they pitch in.

Off the Field

Zych is a big pool player, and when that fact came up during a clubhouse meeting earlier this spring, Servais insisted that he get a pool table in the clubhouse ASAP. He had one the next day, and Robinson Cano ended up footing the bill. “I was sweating that one for a little bit,” he said.

Zych is also a hunter, and he spends his offseasons back home in Illinois.

In an odd fact, with the last name “Zych,” when he debuted he became the last player of more than 18,000 players who have played Major League baseball listed in the baseball encyclopedia.






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