Justin Smoak gets his first off day of the season. He’s been battling lower back and knee stiffness as he’s been playing the last week or so. Mariners manager Eric Wedge decided to go with both catchers in his line-up. That means if Kelly Shoppach were to get injured, the Mariners would lose the DH for the game if Montero had to replace him.
“We needed to give Smoak a day and I wanted to catch Shoppach,” Wedge said. “So it was either him or one of the lefties to DH. I thought this was a good opportunity to give him some more at-bats at against a left-hander. He swung the bat well yesterday. It would have been a stretch to catch him today so it’s the best way to get him in the line-up. I’m not a big fan with your only other catcher. But it’s a risk worth taking.”
Wedge said that Michael Saunders texted him last night after his game in Las Vegas. The message?
“I think he’s champing at the bit,” Wedge said. “I told him to play today and call me.”
Saunders will play center field today and if he comes out of that game healthy, he will be activated from the DL tomorrow. The corresponding roster move would likely be sending Carlos Peguero back to Tacoma.
Danny Hultzen was in the clubhouse wrapping up a rehab session on his strained rotator cuff. This obviously wasn’t the way he wanted to be in the Mariners clubhouse.
“No, this kind of sucks,” he said. “I’ll be good in a couple weeks and ready to go.”
Hultzen has a strained left rotator cuff and is batting tendonitis in the area.
“They said it’s not worrisome that was their phrasing,” Hultzen said. “This is the first time I’ve had to lose a significant time from throwing.”
Hultzen said he felt a little stiff when he started preparing for his start on Thursday in Las Vegas. When he started playing catch in the outfield before going to the bullpen to warm up, the stiffness never went away. Pitching coach Dwight Bernard noticed that Hultzen didn’t look right when he was throwing from about 70 or 80 feet.
“He asked if it was bothering me because it looked it was,” Hultzen said. “I didn’t really want to say anything, but he shut it down and now I’m here.”
Hultzen didn’t put up a fight. He knew better than to push it.
“Good for him for being honest and being smart about it,” Wedge said. “You feel something or something doesn’t feel right, you have to be careful. Today body awareness is such a key thing for these guys. You want them to be tough, but you want them to be aware. If something doesn’t feel right, it usually means something is not right. Let’s at least get it checked it out. Maybe it’s nothing. But if it is something we could pre-empt something.”