Seattle baseball success no surprise to Saanich-born Mariners coach

Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale, right, shares a laugh with the team’s rookie star Julio Rodriguez at T-Mobile Park. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale, right, shares a laugh with the team’s rookie star Julio Rodriguez at T-Mobile Park. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)
Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale watches batting practice outside the cage at T-Mobile Park. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale watches batting practice outside the cage at T-Mobile Park. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)
Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale on the dugout phone checking with instant replay staff during a Major League Baseball game. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)Seattle Mariners field co-ordinator and former Saanich resident Carson Vitale on the dugout phone checking with instant replay staff during a Major League Baseball game. (Photo by Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners)

Being a part of one of the hottest teams in Major League Baseball has made the 2022 season a lot of fun for Carson Vitale.

Vitale, who grew up playing on diamonds around Greater Victoria and graduated from Lambrick Park Secondary School in Saanich before embarking on a pro playing and coaching career, has had a great vantage point as the Major League field coordinator for the Seattle Mariners. He has experienced the lows of a late-spring slump that dropped the M’s well out of playoff contention, to the highs of the recent 14-game win streak that thrust the team into one of three wild card positions.

Midway through a third season in his current role on the Mariners’ bench, he is part of a group that includes many holdovers from the team that barely missed the playoffs in 2021.

Black Press Media caught up with Vitale, a new dad, during the recent MLB all-star game break. He was enjoying the rare in-season opportunity to spend time with his family, including his wife and little fighter of an infant son, whose early birth “shifted his perspective” on life in general.

That said, he has a level perspective on the team’s recent success, particularly a streak unlike any he’s experienced in pro ball (the win streak ended at 14 with a 5-2 loss to Houston on July 22).

“It’s hard to put into words how incredible a streak like this is,” Vitale said, noting that only 42 teams in MLB history have strung together even 12 wins or more. A team needs luck to keep winning like that, but he said they’ve never felt they were out of any game.

It’s all about believing.

“Our group is so close,” he said. “From the players to the people in that clubhouse to the front office, they all believe in each other. The players are playing for the guy next to them.”

Asked what changed between the dark days of early June, and the stretch that saw them win 22 of 25 games leading up to the break, he said really not that much.

“The vibe around the team isn’t that much different than it has been all year. We’ve gotten to this spot because of that consistency, we’ve been cohesive, our players love each other and we’re pulling together, seeing the fruits of that come together.

“We’re getting a little bit more lucky, but our process isn’t that much different from our first game of the year. We’re pitching really well, our defence has been good … and our offence has picked up the pace, they’re doing what they’re capable of right now.”

While no one on the team was surprised that rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez made the American League all-star team and reached the Home Run Derby final, Vitale said, the late addition of sparkplug M’s first baseman Ty France gave everyone a huge boost.

“The fact that Ty was finally selected was an error corrected. He makes our offence go,” he said. “What a huge moment for our team, to see him be recognized for what he’s been doing for the past two seasons.”

France was mobbed by his teammates when manager Scott Servais broke the news to the team the previous week.

In general, Vitale said, it’s nice to see the team receiving good press in the local media these days. Of note was a crucial four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this month, when thousands of Jays fans made the annual trek to Seattle to cheer on their team.

Keeping things going for the Mariners means staying the course, he added.

“If we continue to do what we do, continue to show up for work, we’ll be OK. We’re in the position we’re at now because of how we’ve taken care of business and how we’ve controlled what we can, preparing and competing every night.”

Building off last year, having some key additions to the roster and correcting the course from May and June has the team playing “fun baseball, energizing baseball,” Vitale said.

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