A few quick updates …
Eric Wedge said that Franklin Gutierrez will have an MRI on Thursday. There really is no timetable for his return. It’s frustrating for Wedge. But at least there isn’t the unknown of whether Gutierrez will be available each day.
Endy Chavez will play the bulk of the time in center field. Jason Bay will be the emergency center fielder.
“He’ll be fine if we need him out there” Wedge said.
So why did Wedge choose Carlos Peguero over Eric Thames for the roster?
“We talked about Eric as well, but I just felt like we were better off with Carlos defensively and on the base paths as well,” Wedge said.
It’s saying something that Wedge views Pegeuro as better defensively – because, well, he isn’t great out in the outfield either. The base running thing stems from a few mental mistakes that Thames made last season and this spring. These were things that they were adamant that he work on when he was sent down to Triple A.
“He’s been working hard at it, but it’s not something that happens over night,” Wedge said. “You have to work hard at it pregame and with your reps. He’s swinging the bat well, so that bodes well for him.”
Mentioning defense over offense in a decision is a bit amusing considering Wedge is starting Raul Ibanez in left field. But Thames issues in the field and on the bases are real, and frustrating to Mariners coaches. They are little things that they’ve asked him to address. They also expect him to commit more time to it pregame.
Wedge mentioned Peguero’s improved patience at the plate as something of a positive. Peguero has taken 11 walks in 74 plate appearances. Last year he took 29 in 322 plate appearances at Triple A.
Wedge talked to Rainiers manager Daren Brown today, who told him that Peguero had been working hard with hitting coach Howard Johnson about being more disciplined to not chasing pitches out of the strike zone.
“It’s as much as being willing to take those walks as anything,” Wedge said. “As big as he is, and as strong as he is, he does scare people out of the zone. He has been better with this.”
The problem with Peguero is that he lets the size of the situation overtake that teaching. It’s something former Rainiers hitting coach Jeff Pentland lamented. It seemed all the progress he would make with Peguero in terms of approach or swing changes would go out the door, the moment he got up with runners in scoring position or in big situations.
That was also the case in his previous major league appearances. He just seems to forget everything he’s should and is supposed to be doing and just starts taking mad hacks trying to hit the ball of the planet.
Will he be different this time?
“Every time I get called up and then get sent back down, I learn something,” he said. “I’ve been walking more. I’m just trying to look for my pitch. I’m trying to look for that good one.”
How long Peguero is actually with the team or how much he plays is based on the return of Saunders.
Michael Saunders played catch today. He threw from a distance of over 60 feet which is a good thing. The bad thing is that he felt a little discomfort in the shoulder. He didn’t think it was anything to be concerned with.
“I was able to put a little more on it,” he said “There’s still the feeling of a little discomfort. It’s encouraging to actually get out there and do it.”
But any worries assuaged by how he felt during batting practice on Tuesday.
“It was probably the best I felt,” he said. “I saw some carry on the ball. It was coming off my bat a little better.”
The shoulder has made him make a few minor adjustments.
“I’m still finishing with two hands, but the swing actually feels really good with that finish. I know as the days go on, it will get more flexible. It might be one of those things in a game, where your competitive nature takes over and you just forget about it. And you take a good hard cut and you let go with your top hand and make contact.”
Saunders is eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but he wouldn’t say if he’ll be ready by then. Neither would Wedge.
“I feel like it’s going to be around the corner,” he said. “I’m definitely getting close. But it depends on the situation. If it’s what’s best for me, and what’s best for the team, I will go down and play. If I can step back in right away, I will do that to.”
He knows he can’t come back to soon.
“It was the same thing with my groin last year,” he said. ”I pushed it and I got pulled back in the fourth inning or whenever it was when I had a play to make. It was more in the end of the year last year. Luckily it happened at the beginning of this year, it’s one of those things where I have to make sure I’m not going to injure it any further. If I’m able to go out there and play to an ability to help the club, I can’t rush back and be disservice to the club by not being able to perform to the best of my ability