Julio Rodriguez reunites with an old friend after finally hitting 1st homer of season for Mariners

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Julio Rodríguez tightly hugged the trident that the Seattle Mariners use to celebrate home runs. It was a happy reunion, the first time the young slugger got to hold it after going deep this season.

“I loved it. It was a long time, a long time not seeing my good friend,” Rodríguez said after he hit a 434-foot homer in the Mariners’ 4-0 win in Texas on Tuesday night.

Rodríguez, who had 60 homers over his first two big league seasons and last summer put on a record performance in his home park in the Home Run Derby, pulled a ball that landed about five rows deep in the second deck of seats in left field. That two-run shot in the third inning wrapped up the game’s scoring.

His first big blast this season came in his 89th at-bat of the season while playing all 23 games for the Mariners (12-11), who took over first place in the AL West from the World Series champion Rangers.

“I think he was going to hit a homer this year. So yeah, it had been a while obviously, but he smoked that ball. He was right on it,” manager Scott Servais said. “It’s starting to come together for him. And he’ll hit another homer, too.”

When told what his manager said, Rodríguez chuckled and with a smile responded, “I might.”

Rodríguez now has a seven-game hitting streak, going 14 for 31 with five multi-hit games in that stretch, to raise his batting average from .186 to .278. The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year has 10 RBIs this season.

“A few little little adjustments here and there, and kind of trending in the right direction,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like more like myself today.”

The 23-year-old slugger starred in the Home Run Derby the past two years — this season’s All-Star Game is in Texas if he decides to compete in the long-ball contest again. In Seattle last summer, Rodríguez hit a single-round record 41 homers to advance with a win over Pete Alonso before losing to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the semifinals.

Cal Raleigh put the Mariners ahead to stay in the series opener at Texas with his two-run homer in the first inning off Dane Dunning. It was the catcher’s team-best sixth homer of the season.

“I’m trying to catch up,” Rodríguez said. “He’s going too far away from me right now. So I’ve got some work to do.”


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