What insiders say about new Rays C Mike Zunino

Mike Zunino was well liked and well respected in the Mariners clubhouse. [AP files]
Mike Zunino was well liked and well respected in the Mariners clubhouse. [AP files]
Published Nov. 9, 2018

Seattle Times beat writer Ryan Divish took to his @RyanDivish Twitter account to post some interesting thoughts on C Mike Zunino, who was traded from the Mariners to the Rays on Thursday in a five-player deal also featuring OF Mallex Smith. Divish has been covering the Mariners since 2006, and covered Zunino since he was the team's first pick in 2012.

Divish's take:

"Definitely going to miss covering Mike Zunino. He was great dude, always available and accommodating for the media. He was honest and forthcoming about his failures at the plate. It bothered him immensely, but he always knew his first priority was defense and working pitchers.

"He was universally respected in the Mariners' clubhouse even at a young age because of his freakish strength, his good nature, his willingness to work and always put the pitchers and their needs ahead of his own. They also knew he had their back on the field.

"The Mariners' foolish decision to rush him to the big leagues after less than 100 minor league games did damage to his development that may never be repaired. He never once blamed anyone but himself for his struggles. And there were obvious struggles. So many swings and misses.

"After enduring season upon season of poor defense from the catching position in Seattle, watching Zunino work behind the plate on a daily basis was a refreshing pleasure. And he's still improving. He'll be a Gold Glove winner in the next few seasons.

"The oblique strain a day before opening day was unfortunate. It derailed what had been a good spring and tremendous progress at the plate. He later admitted that he never felt quite the same with his swing or with the oblique for most of the season.

"After the Gordon/Segura fight (in the Mariners clubhouse), a player said: "Someone thought Z was in the fight? Nobody would ever fight him. Never happen. And if he was in the fight, you'd be writing about players going to the hospital."

Others who have known Zunino for a while also chimed in, and one made a sendoff video posted on YouTube: