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.
"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:
I've covered the #Mariners for the past 21 seasons, and dealt with a lot of quality people. Mike Zunino is right up there with the best of them. Wishing him well in Tampa Bay.— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) November 8, 2018
Pros/cons of the Zunino trade aside: Mike was a really, really good dude to be around. Total pro who always made himself available — even to walk dogs outside Petco Park (cc: @nrauschen). There’s no player I took more joy in watching succeed than Z.— Aaron Goldsmith (@heygoldy) November 8, 2018
Zunino made every person in the clubhouse feel like they were a legitimate reporter.No matter how dumb/pointless/irrelevant/flat-out wrong the question was, he did his best to answer it as well as he could.Good stuff from Divish here https://t.co/sIdQGvUkro— Kevin Shockey (@KevinShockey) November 8, 2018
This is pretty much the universal view on Mike Zunino. https://t.co/LY9ZTjocov— Bob Dutton (@ByBobDutton) November 8, 2018