Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic enters 2023 season with new knowledge, new swing
SEATTLE - May 13, 2021 was the first day Jarred Kelenic’s name appeared on the Mariners lineup card. He was called the best high school baseball player in the country by many outlets, FanGraphs ranked him as the No. 6 prospect in all baseball in 2020.
If there are wins and lessons, Kelenic has mostly had lessons since joining the big leagues. He proved he could smash a baseball in his second game ever wearing a Mariners uniform, but he’s had a hard time finding consistency.
"Any time that you struggle, it’s hard for sure, mentally. It’s hard on relationships that I have with people just because you’re in such a dark place, but the good thing is that I have a team behind me in my personal life; family members and stuff like that."
"I’m trying to just turn the narrative a little bit. I look at my inconsistent success in the big leagues not as a lack of ability. I look at all these guys, who we’re playing against in the big leagues; I can do what they can do. I look at it as a lack of information that I had. When I can turn that narrative it’s a positive way to think about it because I’ve learned so much this off-season. I’m excited to apply everything that I’ve learned this last offseason turn the page on the stuff the last two years because I didn’t know what I know now."
"I was hitting the ball hard, so I was like ‘I’m going to keep doing that.’ But then when you get to the big leagues, everybody’s talented. You kind of get exposed in terms of what you know and what you don’t know. When I have a bad week or I have a bad two weeks it’s going to happen, but I also have the knowledge to know what’s not working and why it’s not working and not just throw my hands up in the air and try to do the same thing over and over."
This offseason was like going back to school for Kelenic. He spent most of it in Peoria, Ariz. Instead of home in Wisconsin. Surrounded by coaches, he took a notebook with him to every hitting session, keeping track of his thoughts and cues that worked for him after each practice.
It’s no secret, Kelenic has tinkered with his swing a time or two. But last year when he was sent down to the minor leagues, he reverted back to his high school swing, where he’d rest the bat on his shoulder while waiting for the pitch.
"I’m still rocking with that. A major league season is long, and I wanted to get to a spot where no matter how tired I was, I could always rest of the bat on my shoulder."
Before the change, he noticed his stance and his swing fluctuated throughout the season. He held his hands higher in July, then noticed they were lower in August. The new position creates consistency.
"I could be dead tired, but now I can just rest my bat on my shoulder, and it’s simple."
When it comes to the pressure, trying to live up to the hype of once being called the best prospect in the country and then struggling, Kelenic defends his work ethic. He’s also solely focused on team goals this year.
"As frustrating as it was to see my lack of success, you guys have no idea what I was going through, and how hard I’ve worked. this isn’t something where I just needed to work harder. I work as hard as anybody, so that was never the question."
"I’m motivated in terms of we played playoff baseball, it was cool, but we didn’t win.
"To win a World Series, that’s the goal. I’m not going to sit here and tell you how good I think I’m going to do or how bad I think I’m going to do my only goal is to go win a World Series and if I go 0-4 forever and we win a World Series, we did our job."