Mike Zunino will make his major league debut tonight. He will catch and bat sixth. The rest of the line-up is a little tweaked with Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales both not starting tonight. Morales’ back locked up before yesterday’s game, forcing him to be scratched. He’s not in there today. Morse is taking early batting practice, but they have also been careful not to push him to much as he recovers from this quadriceps strain. Justin Smoak is taking early BP from both sides of the plate. He will likely go on a rehab assignment tomorrow with the Rainiers.
“With Zunino, I’m glad to get him in there and get him started,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He’s going to catch Bonderman, who he had in Triple-A, so that’s a good thing. I like to get guys in there right away. He was able to get settled in yesterday and I look forward to seeing him play tonight.”
Zunino sat with Bonderman in the dugout during last night’s game and had constant conversation.
“You definitely have an idea of what he wants to do, which is the biggest step,” Zunino said. “As long as we can be on the same page, or close to it, that’s going to help him out. Hopefully, we can have some success. It’s definitely going to help that I’ve caught him throughout the season so far. ”
Franklin Gutierrez is in Las Vegas with the Rainiers on a rehab assignment. He will DH tonight. Justin Smoak, who took early BP and regular BP, will likely join him tomorrow.
“I’m excited to get Smoak and Gutierrez out. Not having Gutierrez this year has really been a huge hit for us. It really changed everything. You talk about your lineup and what he means in the field, just everything really worked together. We saw in spring training when he was in there it all came together nicely. So I’m hoping we can get both those guys back.”
Morales’ back continues to be an issue.
“He’s not ready to play,” Wedge said. “We were hoping to DH him today. I knew first base wasn’t going to be an option. We had Morse planned as an off day today. He needs it so we can couple that with tomorrow. We’re a little thin, but other guys need to step up. That’s what has to happen.”
There was a reason Wedge as hesitant to play Morales too much at first base early on when Smoak was healthy. He’s been playing there too much and his body can’t handle it.
“It probably is,” Wedge said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are dinged up right and it’s probably for the fact we’ve had to run them out there. We’ve been thin and we’ve had guys that are limited, so we haven’t been able to get guys days off over the course of this 20 like you’d like to see. It’s just been such a grind. I’ve never been part of a grind like this for the first two and a half months. These players have really been up against it. And you know what. They don’t complain. They show up ready to play, they understand responsibility. It’ll come back to us, the toughness they’ve shown here.”
Michael Morse has the day off. Wedge is hoping with today off and tomorrw, he can take a step forward.
“He’s been very good. I’m going to say for all the fans, we told him he could only run a certain percentage,” Wedge said. “So when you see him running down the line or attempting to run, that’s what he’s doing. Not that he’s going to steal any bases anyway, but he’s shown us we’ve been able to trust him. And he’s helped us win a couple games in the last week, with the leadoff double or that double late. So he has contributed.”