Top Seattle Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic is using former team president and CEO Kevin Mather's controversial remarks about his service time as fuel in his quest to earn an MLB roster spot in spring training.
"I'm a competitor," Kelenic said Wednesday, according to Corey Brock of The Athletic. "I'm a very driven person as it is. That being said, something like this comes up, I think you can look at it one of two ways: You can sit and pout about it, or you can use it as motivation and let it drive you even more. That's where I'm at. Each and every day, I'm letting this drive me.
"I'm using it as motivation to try and dominate this spring."
Mather resigned from the team on Feb. 21 after a video surfaced in which he said Seattle would wait until a month into the 2021 season to call Kelenic up to the majors.
Kelenic and his agent said the following day that the Mariners kept the outfielder from making his major-league debut in 2020 because he didn't sign a long-term contract extension. They also said the team communicated as much on several occasions.
Their remarks came on the same day Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto disputed that the team had engaged in any service-time manipulation.
Nevertheless, Kelenic showed why he's so highly touted on Wednesday when he hit Seattle's first home run of spring training in a game against the Chicago Cubs.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said on the broadcast immediately before Kelenic made contact that "players will let you know when they're ready."
Kelenic offered his own opinion afterward.
"I think that's perfect timing," he said.
Kelenic joined Seattle in 2018 as a key piece in the trade that sent All-Star closer Edwin Diaz to the New York Mets. The 21-year-old has slashed .290/.366/.516 with 29 home runs and 110 RBIs in 173 minor-league games.