Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

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Chris Haynes joins CSN for next three seasons

COMCAST SPORTSNET PRESS RELEASE:

Portland,OR (June 8, 2012) ComcastSportsNet Northwest, home for Northwest sports, today announced the addition ofTrail Blazer and NBA Insider, Chris Haynes, with the signing of a three-yearcontract. Haynes, entering his second season with Comcast SportsNet, willcontinue to expand the role he began during the 2011-2012 Trail Blazers seasonon the network and on CSNNW.com breaking news and providing reliable insideinformation alongside CSNNW.coms senior editor Dwight Jaynes. His contract iseffective as of Sunday, July 1st.

Duringthe 2011-12 season, Haynes was the only member of Portland media to attend allTrail Blazers games, home and away. He will continue to be present at everygame, at practices, at shoot-arounds, at press conferences and at major NBAevents bringing exclusive videos, interviews and information to CSNNW.com.Additionally, Haynes will continue his popular Insider Blog on CSNNW.com and hewill be a regular on Comcast SportsNet programs Rip City Live and TalkinBall.

Lastseason, Haynes broke many stories that were continuously picked up by nationaloutlets such as Yahoo, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and HoopsHype. Those storiesincluded Greg Odens issues with blood clots in his ankle, Batums intent tosign his first offer this summer, Jamal Crawfords decision to opt out andSteve Kerr turning down the GM position.

Priorto joining Comcast SportsNet, Haynes wrote for SLAM Magazine andProBasketballNews.com and worked for Fox Sports Radio in Fresno, CA. Haynes hascovered a variety of major sports that include the NBA Finals, the World Seriesand the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. He is a member of the Pro BasketballWriters Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Weare thrilled to have Chris Haynes join our team here at Comcast SportsNet,providing year round coverage of the Trail Blazers for the TV network andCSNNW.com, said Director of Digital Media Kevin Berry. Senior Digital Editorand TV Host Dwight Jaynes said, We believe that Chris tireless work ethic andconnections throughout the NBA with players, coaches, agents and generalmanagers, combined with my decades of experience in covering the league willreinforce the fact that Comcast SportsNet and CSNNW.com are the premieredestinations in the Northwest for fans to find breaking news, unbiased analysisand year-round coverage of the Trail Blazers and NBA.

ReadChris blog at CSNNW.com and follow him on Twitter @ChrisBHaynes.

The Raptors, with Ibaka a big plus at both ends, defeat the Blazers

The Raptors, with Ibaka a big plus at both ends, defeat the Blazers

TORONTO -- I think, on the whole, the Portland Trail Blazers were in a little over their heads Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors -- even though Toronto's all-star guard, Kyle Lowry, sat this one out with an injury.

And a little more than a week ago, with Lowry out, I'm not sure I would have said that. But the Raptors added Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline and he was a game-changer in the Raps' 112-106 win over Portland.

Ibaka scored 18 points, hitting 8 of his 15 shots, and added 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals. And, of course, he did his usual outstanding job at the defensive end. He scored nine points in a key time from the 6:02 mark to 3:28 to play, acting like a go-to offensive player.

"He's a great addition to their team," said Portland guard Damian Lillard, who led the Trail Blazers with 28 points. "He's a great addition on both ends of the floor -- protecting the paint, being able to show and being active on pick and rolls. Offensively, he can shoot the ball. You saw tonight he was able to get on the block and score, shooting fadeaways and jump hooks. He's a really good fit on their team."

No kidding. And you have to give Ibaka credit. As a 20-year-old rookie in the league in 2009 he ran from shots -- a timid offensive player who averaged only five attempts per game. But he steadily worked on his offense from the outside in, first becoming a good three-point shooter and now adding a medium and short-range game to his arsenal. He's packing an effective field goal percentage of .625 this season.

He's going to be a big asset in the playoffs, when the Raptors just might have a legitimate shot at the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Portland jumped to a 12-point lead in the first quarter but it slipped away rapidly. The Blazers led by three after the first period and trailed by one at the half. Still, they were down by just a bucket heading into the final quarter. And this is in spite of allowing a bewildering 21-2 Toronto run from the end of the first half to the first minute and a half of the third quarter.

"Teams are going to make runs but I thought we could have done a better job of stemming the tide a bit," said Portland Coach Terry Stotts. "It's disappointing to lose a game but I thought we competed well."

Maurice Harkless, who took a pass on talking to the media after the game, scored 18 points, hitting seven of nine shots. But at times the Trail Blazers had a lot of trouble finding another scorer. CJ McCollum hit just six of his 19 shots and Allen Crabbe two of six. Al-Farouq Aminu, back in action again, played 29:21 and had 13 points and eight rebounds.

"I thought we played hard, but we had that run in the second quarter where we went up double digits and let them go on a run," McCollum said. "At the start of the third quarter they went on another mini-run and I thought that was the difference in the game.

"We've just got to continue to stick with it."

Portland's new center, Jusuf Nurkic, had a rough night. He made just three of nine shots and got worked over pretty well by Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas, who made seven of eight shots. Worse than that, Nurkic took a shot in the mouth in the fourth quarter that resulted in something being dislodged in his mouth. At first it appeared he might have lost a couple of teeth but word came later that he had two crowns dislodged and subsequently repaired. He was not available for comment after the game.

DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 33 points -- 15 of them at the foul line, where he seems to live. This man gets calls the way Jordan used to get them -- whether they are actually fouls or not.

The Trail Blazers moved on to Detroit, where they conclude the road trip with a Tuesday game against the Pistons.

Raptors outlast Trail Blazers

Raptors outlast Trail Blazers

TORONTO -- The Portland Trail Blazers led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter and stayed close most of the way Sunday night but the Toronto Raptors pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 112-106 win.

Portland got 28 points from Damian Lillard and 18 from Maurice Harkless but got little help from others in this game. Harkless made seven of his nine shots and Lillard hit 10 of 20 but couldn't find any scoring from anyone else.

The Raptors rattled off a 15-2 run to end the first half and then scored the first six points of the third quarter but Portland fought back in the third and trailed by only two heading into the final period.

Portland center Jusuf Nurkic appeared to lose a couple of teeth, or a bridge, in a collision near the basket during the fourth quarter but he continued to play.

DeMar DeRozan scored 33 to lead Toronto. Al-Farouq Aminu returned to action for Portland, playing 30 minutes and scoring 13 points.

Portland moves on to Detroit to end this three-game road trip with a Tuesday-night game against the Pistons.

 

 

Trail Blazers and Raptors battling in a close one right now on CSN

Trail Blazers and Raptors battling in a close one right now on CSN

The Portland Trail Blazers continue its three-game road trip with game number two on Sunday in Toronto.

Al-Farouq Aminu (left knee) made is return to the court, but Blazers head coach Terry Stotts decided to keep Aminu in a reserve role. 

Midway through the first quarter, the Blazers were down 16-15.

To end the first quarter, the Trail Blazers held a 28-25 lead behind Maurice Harkless’ nine points after Harkless went 3-of-3 from the floor.  As a team, Portland shot 47.4% in the first quarter, while Toronto ended up shooting 45% from the field.

In the first half of his return, Aminu played 16 minutes and scored 11 points.  Aminu also pulled down six rebounds in the first half.

The Ratpors ended the first half on 15-2 run to get back in the game.

At the break, Toronto is up 53-52.  The Blazers shot 43.2% from the floor.  The Raptors shot 52.6% for the half.

 


Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:
  Al-Farouq Aminu, 11

Rebounds:  Al-Farouq Aminu, 6

Assist:  Damian Lillard, 4

 

 


Raptors

Points:  DeMar Derozan, 16

Rebounds:  Serge Ibaka, 4

Assist:  Cory Joseph, 4


Following tonight’s game, you can check out an all-new Talkin’ Ball live on CSN.  And if you can’t get to a TV, you can catch The Scoop Postgame show presented by Toyota of Portland on Broadway streaming live at Facebook.com/CSNNW on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Trail Blazers try to build momentum, take on Raptors at 3pm on CSN

Trail Blazers try to build momentum, take on Raptors at 3pm on CSN

The Portland Trail Blazers (24-22) and Toronto Raptors (34-24) tip-off at 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon and you can catch all the action between Portland and Toronto on CSN.

The Trail Blazers are coming off a 112-103 comeback win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.  In the win, Damian Lillard scored 17 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.

As for the Raptors, Toronto beat the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 107-97.  The Raptors shot 49.4% from the field for the game.  Toronto’s point guard Kyle Lowry has been dealing with a wrist injury and did miss Friday’s game.

In the first meeting between the Blazers and Raptors, Toronto won, 95-91 back on December 26th.  In the loss for Portland, CJ McCollum scored 29 points and had seven assists.  Lillard did not play in the last meeting vs. the Raptors because of an ankle injury.

Toronto is now 20-10 at home this season.

The Trail Blazers have listed Al-Farouq Aminu (left knee) has probable for Sunday’s game.

We will set the stage for Sunday’s game between the Trail Blazers and Raptors with an all-new Rip City Live starting at 2:00pm. 

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 3:00pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW.




Quick Links:

Lillard rides to the rescue in the fourth quarter

Three ‘new’ players fuel Blazer comeback win over Magic

 

 

Video:   1080 the FAN: Where do Blazers go after quiet deadline?

Video:   1080 the FAN: Nurkic has a lot of talent and has shown us his upside

Video:   Napier: I’ve grown to be that tough guy

Video:   Lillard: Building on win over Orlando


 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Air Canada Centre, Toronto Canada

Television: CSN, 3:00pm

CSN Programming:  Rip City Live (2:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 2:00pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

No. 6 Oregon escapes Stanford with 75-73 win

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No. 6 Oregon escapes Stanford with 75-73 win

How Oregon won: Ducks fans can breathe a sigh of relief. For just the second time since 1976, the Ducks sweep the Bay Area schools (California and Stanford). Both California and Stanford were challenges for Oregon, but the Ducks survived. It wasn't pretty, and Oregon has some work to do, but No. 6 Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) escapes Stanford (14-14, 6-10 Pac-12) with a 75-73 win. 

First off, the Good: Four of Oregon's starters finished in double digits: Freshman guard Payton Pritchard finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey, who got off to a hot start but a quiet second half, finished with 15 points and a critical five-for-six from the free-throw line. Junior forward Dillon Brooks finished with 14 points and lead the Ducks with four assists. Junior forward Jordan Bell finished with 13 points and the tip-in that gave the Ducks a 75-73 lead over the Cardinal with just nine seconds left.

The Ducks won the turnover battle eight to 15 but more impressively they capitalized on those 15 Cardinal turnovers with 19 points. 

The Bad: Oregon lost the rebounding battle, badly. Stanford finished with 35 team rebounds, 14 alone from Travis. Of those team rebounds, 15 were offense and 22 were defensive rebounds. Stanford forward Reid Travis made his presence known under the hoop. The junior got excellent position down low by using his 6'8" 245 lbs body to his advantage. Senior forward Chris Boucher and Bell got caught several times in the air on Travis's pump-fakes. Boucher especially got hit with a foul. Boucher was forced to head to the bench early with three fouls in the first half alone.

The Ugly: The Ducks struggled from the free throw line going 10-for-20 as a team. Both teams were in fould trouble early which lead to lots of trips to the free throw line. Brooks went zero-for-two, Boucher went two-for-six, and Pritchard one-for-three. Yikes. Free throws down the stretch can win games.    

What it means: The Ducks broke the Bay Area curse, again, and came away sweeping the Bay Area schools (California and Stanford) for just the second time since 1976. It definitely wasn't easy, but the Ducks did it. Both California and Stanford celebrated their senior nights while hosting the Ducks. Oregon had to face two good home teams, whom they struggled against historically, and had to face the emotional highs of senior night as well. On the plus side, facing and beating two tough road teams at the tail end of their season can only benefit the Ducks moving forward to getting into deeper tournament runs. 

Key sequence: Oregon went with its starters down the stretch: Pritchard, Ennis, Dorsey, Brooks, and Bell. Bell came up clutch in the final last possession of the game grabbing a defensive rebound to reset the shotclock and cause more time to come off the game clock. With the shot clock winding down, Ennis shot a three-pointer that was tipped, but Pritchard was there to throw it back up desparately trying to just hit the rim, which it did thankfully. Bell was there to then clean it up, frantically, and got a lucky tip in to put the Ducks up 75-73 with nine seconds left. 

Of course, everyone knew the ball would find Reid Travis at the top of the key. Travis drove to his left but ran into good defense from Bell and Brooks helping down low off his player. Travis lost control and the ball as time expired for a Ducks win.

High flying Ducks: Dorsey found his stroke early and finished the first half leading Oregon with 13 points. He got quiet in the second half and finished the game with just 15 points on four-of-eight shooting. 

Fowl play: Boucher struggled against a stronger Reid Travis and picked up three fouls in the first half. He finished with four. Brooks finished with three fouls along with junior guard Casey Benson.

Up next: No. 6 Oregon comes home but hit the road 45 minutes north to face the Oregon State Beavers (5-25, 1-16 Pac-12) in the second chapter of the Civil War this season on Saturday.

 

As time goes by, 'Jail Blazers' trying hard to shed that nasty image

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As time goes by, 'Jail Blazers' trying hard to shed that nasty image

I usually pay very little attention to Kevin Garnett's bewildering segments during TNT's Thursday night NBA broadcasts. It's usually just a couple of washed-up players sitting there telling each other how good they used to be. It's a waste of time that I can't believe TNT finds them more entertaining than a couple of minutes of Charles Barkley talking about anything.

But I recently saw a clip of Garnett and Rasheed Wallace talking about the 2000 Trail Blazers-Lakers Western Conference finals Game 7 and the "Jail Blazers" Era. And for those who weren't around at that time, I can't help but attempt to set the record straight about a few things they discussed:

And let me say I agree with Wallace that Portland should have won that series and advanced to an NBA Finals berth against overmatched Indiana. It was a mystifying fourth quarter collapse in the seventh game by Portland that changed the course of the franchise in a big way.

But Wallace, whose image in Portland seems to improve with every year he's retired, misstated a few things about that final game.

The first thing is, he blamed Coach Mike Dunleavy for calling a timeout that he believes stopped his team's momentum and allowed the Lakers to make a comeback. I would say, though, the Trail Blazer players -- and Wallace in particular -- had much more to do with Portland's loss than did the coach. The Blazers had a 73-58 lead in the fourth quarter before being outscored 31-11 to end the game with a four-point loss.

Down the stretch of a magnificent upset of a loaded Laker team that featured Kobe and Shaq, the Trail Blazer players choked. They tightened up to the point they couldn't seem to get their shots to the rim. Wallace himself was awful in the fourth quarter, which wasn't surprising. The talented power forward could be spectacular for much of a game and then run from key shots in fourth quarters. He eventually found a home in Detroit, where there were other players more than willing to take the pressure shots.

And the other thing that happened in this game is that Portland could not buy a call from the referees once the Lakers got their machine revved up. This game has become one of those controversial events that people point to as possible "fixed" games down through the years in the NBA. Scottie Pippen and Arvydas Sabonis fouled out of this one, with Sabonis continually getting blocking calls when he had solid position on Shaq as the latter bulled his way to the basket.

A check of the box score shows Los Angeles getting 21 more free throws than Portland and the fouls put a lot of pressure on Portland in the fourth quarter.

But that was a loss and it will always be that way. What I found in the video clip more disturbing was Wallace downplaying the whole Jail Blazers thing, insinuating that the players were being pilloried by the media for little things like parking in handicapped spots or speeding and that the local media was just out to make a name for itself in a small market.

That's a steaming pile of stink, Rasheed.

I'm not going to go into the full list of transgressions by the players on this team but here are just a few I remember off hand:

  • Ruben Patterson --  a registered sex offender who was arrested for felony domestic abuse against his wife.
  • Zach Randolph --  Once punched Patterson's eye socket out in practice, had a DUI and was the leader of the infamous "hoops family" that was under suspicion for all kinds of local mischief,
  • Qyntel Woods -- Arrested for speeding and tried to use his basketball card as ID. A marijuana charge and an arrest for animal abuse because of his involvement with a dog-fighting group.
  • Shawn Kemp -- Departed the team to enter drug rehab during a season.
  • Bonzi Wells --  A couple of episodes of spitting on opposing players and a stated disregard for the team's fans.
  • Rasheed Wallace -- World records for technical fouls, throwing a towel in anger at Arvydas Sabonis in front of a packed house in the Rose Garden and once threatened referee Tim Donaghy in a loading dock incident after a game.
  • JR Rider -- Threatened media many times, couldn't get along with his coaches and once insinuated that people of color were being hanged from trees just a few miles outside of town.
  • Damon Stoudamire -- A couple of marijuana charges, one of them famously at an airport metal detector with weed wrapped in foil.

Wallace, of course, laughed it all off with Garnett. "There were some mishaps in there," he admitted. "We were the only show in town. The only professional sports show in town. The only professional sports show between Seattle, at the time, and LA."

Hmmm. I guess he must have forgotten about all those "professional sports shows" in San Francisco and Oakland. But this Wallace remark was a classic:

"The only thing that could blow up and make local writers big was to go ahead and report everything, like if you had a speeding ticket or parked in a handicapped spot..."

As one of those writers I can tell you that we were just as sick of writing about those "mishaps" as they were sick about reading about them. But they were news and these guys were relentless with their trouble. And the amazing thing about Portland as a basketball town was as long as the team was winning, virtually nobody cared what the players did. We were constantly criticized by fans for writing "negative stuff" about their heroes, who got standing ovation after standing ovation from their adoring fans.

Until they started losing.

And let me tell you, as soon as that team started losing (Bob Whitsitt just couldn't keep his hands off the roster -- he kept tinkering until he moved Jermaine O'Neal to Indiana for Dale Davis and that was a monster mistake that probably cost him his job) the fans turned on the team very quickly. Winning is the ultimate perfume. And when this team stopped winning and continued its misbehavior, the fans revolted about the offensive aroma.

And I'm sorry, any attempt to portray that group of players as a sympathetic bunch is very misguided.

And if you were here and paid attention, you know what I'm talking about.

Can No. 6 Oregon come down from the clouds and refocus on Stanford? Preview: Oregon at Stanford

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Can No. 6 Oregon come down from the clouds and refocus on Stanford? Preview: Oregon at Stanford

Coming off quite the scary win at California last Wednesday, the No. 6 Oregon Ducks (25-4, 14-2 Pac-12) will need to refocus on a Stanford Cardinal (14-13, 6-9 Pac-12) team looking for revenge at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Stanford, CA.

In their last meeting, the Ducks rolled the Cardinal 69-52 in Eugene. However, Stanford was missing a key element to both their offense and defense: junior forward Reid Travis who was out due to a shoulder injury at the time. Travis is currently averaging 16.7 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. This is a different team behind Travis. 

Last Friday, the Cardinal defeated the Pac-12 fourth ranked Cal Golden Bears 73-68 at home to add to their 11-4 home record. Stanford lost its first four home games but since then have protected Maples Pavilion Stadium perfectly. 

The Ducks can’t rely on another comeback win lead by their junior forward leader Dillon Brooks. The Canadian-trio of Brooks, senior forward Chris Boucher, and senior guard Dylan Ennis have been electric in the last two games and will be tested once again on Saturday. The trio combined for 53 of the team’s 68 total points vs. California.

A quick look at the game:

No. 6 Oregon at Stanford

Where: Maples Pavilion, Stanford, CA

When: 1:05 p.m.

TV: Pac-12 Networks        

Records: Ducks (25-4, 14-2 Pac-12), Cardinal (13-13, 6-9 Pac-12).

Last outings: Dillon Brooks saved the day for the Ducks in a comeback win capped with a game-winning three-pointer to beat Cal 68-65 in Berkeley on Wednesday. Stanford handed Oregon State another loss and defeated the Beavers 79-66 at home last Wednesday.

Coaches: UO's Dana Altman (179-68 at Oregon, 589-311 Division I). Stanford’s Jerod Haase (14-13 at Stanford, 94-66 overall). 

Key Ducks: G Tyler Dorsey, 6-4, So., (12.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg), G Dylan Ennis, 6-2, Sr., (11.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg), G Payton Pritchard, 6-2, Fr., (7.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Jordan Bell, 6-9, Jr., (10.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg), F Dillon Brooks, 6-7, Jr., (15.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .432 3PT%), F Chris Boucher, 6-10, Sr., (12.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.7 bpg).

Key Cardinal: G Marcus Allen, 6-3, Sr., (10.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg), G Marcus Sheffield, 6-5, So., (6.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg), F Reid Travis, 6-8, Jr., (16.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G/F Dorian Pickens, 6-5, Jr., (12.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg).

Notes: Jordan Bell is the only player in the Pac-12 ranked in the top 10 in rebounds (9th), blocks (4th) and steals (8th). He is also second in the league in fi eld goal percentage (.619)…Wednesday at Cal, Dana Altman tied Steve Belko (1956-71) for fourth in UO career coaching victories at Oregon with 179. He is one win back of W.J. Reinhart (180/1923-35) for third….The Ducks lead the nation at 6.9 blocks per game, and also lead the nation in total blocks with 199.

 

Portland Winterhawks go down fighting this week

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Portland Winterhawks

Portland Winterhawks go down fighting this week

BY 

While maybe not drastic enough to be considered a reversal of fortune, the last week of play has been a rough one for the Portland Winterhawks. There are less than a dozen games left in the regular season, and it isn’t enough that the team is losing but rather that the wrong rivals are winning at the same rate. If this decline continues, the rebuilding year might come to a premature end.

Last week saw the return of team captain Keegan Iverson to the roster after a month on the injured list, and it appeared to invigorate the backcheck skating and defensive posture of his fellow forwards. That Thursday’s game saw the Hawks beat the Kamloops Blazers 4-0 with only one bout for the penalty killing unit, and goaltender Cole Kehler was sufficiently supported to snag a 41-save shutout.

Unfortunately, the momentum was not maintained and the Hawks have had three straight defeats, two of which are significant blows to their playoff hopes. The Seattle Thunderbirds have left the Winterhawks in the dust with a 13-point lead in the rankings and the Tri-City Americans have also emerged as the dark horse contender for the third playoff slot with 75 points to Portland’s 68. The real frustration comes from watching great goaltenders like Kehler and rookie Shane Farkas have to suffer so many more shots on goal than they needed. The little mistakes have started to add up as well, with Portland giving up six powerplay conversions to Seattle in one game. As much as the Hawks need defensive cohesion for skaters, there is a serious issue with consistency in between the pipes. One night, 45 saves. The next game, choppy performances and a failure to hustle.

Credit should be given when it is due: Seattle and Tri-City have gotten serious. Play-offs serious. The Americans have won their last four games, and the Hawks have had trouble with them all season. Seattle, meanwhile, has a knack for drawing penalties during crunchtime and has stepped up their standard for two-way, aggressive play in the last two months.

Headed into March, Portland must hope that the sudden rise of the Americans has not stabilized the US Division rankings too rigidly. If so, Portland is stuck vying for that top wildcard position, which has quite a few suitors like the Vancouver Giants, who shall be the bane of next week as the adversaries of a three-time series. Every game counts from here on in, including games that Portland players aren’t even in.

Jean Segura poised for big season for Mariners

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USA TODAY

Jean Segura poised for big season for Mariners

BY 

The Seattle Mariners take the field Saturday to face the San Diego Padres in their first spring training game of the 2017 baseball season. There’s a new man at shortstop who will make his Mariners debut with high expectations, but will Jean Segura be able to repeat his career-best numbers from last year in a new uniform?

That has to be one of the bigger questions Mariners fans are asking themselves as their team begins the spring training game schedule.

Segura, the 26-year old middle infielder, will be entering his sixth major-league season, but none of them have yielded the numbers quite like last season when he played in the launching pad at Chase Field in Arizona. His first five seasons were played in Milwaukee, which is also a fairly hitter-friendly park.

Welcome to Safeco.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Segura’s home run totals as a member of the Brewers were 0 (144 at-bats), 12 (588 ABs), 5 (513 ABs), 6 (560 ABs) and 20 (637 ABs), respectively. A jump to 20 homers last year is quite significant, but in all honesty, hitting the long ball isn’t his strength. I expect him to hit second in the Seattle order where he will hope to get on base, run around a little bit and let the big thumpers Nelly Cruz, Robbie Cano and Kyle Seager drive him in.

In his previous four, full seasons, Segura stole 44, 20 and 25 bases with the Brewers and 33 bases last season in Arizona. He also hit .319 for the Diamondbacks as he eclipsed the .300 mark for the first time in his career.

If he can repeat those numbers — .319 average, 33 steals and 20 home runs – the Mariners will be more than pleased. Segura also had a career high in RBIs last year with 64 and a career-best 102 runs scored.

SIGNS HE CAN REPEAT HIS 2016 CAMPAIGN

Segura isn’t just a one-year, out of nowhere success story. He was an all-star in 2013 – his first full season in the majors. The year before while still in the minor leagues, he was selected to the MLB Futures Game – generally reserved for top prospects from the 30 organizations in baseball. In 2011, Segura was named as a “Rising Star” in the Arizona Fall League and was a two-time organization all-star in 2010 and 2012 as a member of the L.A. Angels system before being traded with other players for Zack Greinke.

Point being – he’s always had success and he’s always been projected to be a really good player.

The ‘magical age’ in baseball theories is 27. I’m not sure who created this theory or even if it still holds true, but when hitters turn 27 they are presumed to be “in their prime and playing their best baseball”. Not everyone goes all Nelson Cruz and waits till they are 36 to blast off arguably the best season of their career, but generally speaking 27 is when hitters have it figured out and are playing their best.

Segura will turn 27 on March 17.

While on the topic of popular phrases that I don’t know where they came from – speed never slumps. Segura is still fast, so there’s no reason to think his stolen base numbers will slip. In short, he’s almost at the ‘golden age of productivity’ (I just made that one up. Consider that trademarked) and he still has his speed to help him get on base and be a factor on the base paths.

He will have plenty of protection behind him in the lineup as well, which usually means a lot of fastballs. Segura, like many hitters these days, is a good fast ball hitter. Not too many pitchers will want to walk him with Cano on deck and Cruz staring creepily from the top of the dugout waiting his turn to tee off. Pitches to hit are usually beneficial for players like Segura.

WHY HIS NUMBERS MAY FALTER

It’s kind of hard to duplicate career highs in home runs, doubles, runs scored, on-base percentage and batting average in back-to-back seasons for anyone. The sheer odds of it are I’m sure staggeringly low. By default, I assume he won’t top all of those categories.

If I had to guess which ones, I would assume a slight dip in batting average – something closer to .285 perhaps and maybe more like 15 homers. That’s still a foundation for a solid season, but to top all of those power categories will be a challenging task.

In the ‘don’t blame it on Chase Field’ category, we can look at Segura’s home vs. away split last year courtesy of baseball-reference.com:

It’s a fairly even split. I have seen some players who can’t even remotely hit on the road – it’s disgusting (and not all of them play for the Colorado Rockies).

FINAL WORD

The Mariners are stressing they can make the playoffs this year after narrowly missing the wild card game last season. Granted, every team always thinks they can make the playoffs in the spring – except maybe the Braves, Phillies, Padres, Angels or Twins this year – but the Mariners do in fact have a legitimate chance.

Jean Segura will be a big part of their success. He needs to stay healthy, he needs to be active on the bases and he needs to hit as close to .300 as possible. If he can do all those things and provide above-average defense, the Mariners can go a long way in the AL West.

Baseball season is finally here. It’s a beautiful, beautiful time of year. Go Mariners!