Coaches address defensive woes

Coaches address defensive woes

ARLINGTON -- There have been two players-only meetings in the last five days. There has been a team meeting.

On Wednesday morning, it was a lengthy coaches' meeting. The central topic -- how to get the Mariners defense turned around.

The Mariners started the day 13th in the American League with a .980 fielding percentage, only ahead of Texas (.974), the team that has handed Seattle two draining losses to start the week.

The Mariners made four errors in Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Rangers, the last three leading to the three runs Texas scored after Seattle had tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth.

Seattle played solid defense all spring, and they have Gold Glovers in center fielder Ichiro Suzuki and third baseman Adrian Beltre. So the five errors the Mariners have made here in Texas are puzzling.

"It's the biggest thing that surprises me," Mariners manager John McLaren said.

McLaren and the coaching staff have other defensive concerns, namely that opponents are going from first to third too easily. It's a big concern considering one of the Mariners' division rivals, the Los Angeles Angels, are the best in baseball at going from first to third.

"We'll try to shallow it up," McLaren said. "We may have a few balls hit over our heads, but there are way too many going first to third. We'll take our chances."

McLaren said that the infielders met one-on-one with third base coach Sam Perlozzo, and the outfielders met with first base coach Eddie Rodriguez.

The coaches discussed different ways to tighten up the defense, but McLaren admitted that some of the mistakes might be coming from trying too hard, with the Mariners losers of 12 of their last 14 games coming into Wednesday.

In Tuesday's game, right fielder Wladimir Balentien overran a roller into the outfield in the bottom of the eighth trying to hold up a runner at third in a one-run game. That runs scored, and the Rangers scored again in the inning to take a 5-2 lead.

Left fielder Raul Ibanez and Beltre both bobbled balls on the ground for errors. All were cases in which the Mariners tried to rush plays.

"They can't be all that way," McLaren said. "We make too many great plays. It doesn't add up any way you equate it. It's a mystery."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.