Just a quick post because the Mariners have a quick turnaround to the first of three straight afternoon games (morning games, if you’re on Pacific time) after Friday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay in the opener of a four-game wraparound series at Tropicana Field.
We should get an update later today on outfielder Michael Saunders, who exited Friday’s game because of a sore right shoulder that he suffered on a swing in the fourth inning. There was some confusion as to when the injury occurred.
Manager Lloyd McClendon believed the injury occurred while Saunders was swinging a bat on deck, but Saunders later said it occurred in the batters’ box during a two-out strikeout that left runners at second and third in what was then a scoreless game.
That was the game’s key moment, too. The Mariners put runners at second and third with no outs before Mariners ex-patriate Erik Bedard struck out Brad Miller, James Jones and Saunders in succession.
Saunders said he doesn’t believe the injury is serious.
“I just felt something on a swing,” he said. “It was a little bit uncomfortable. We came in here (the clubhouse) and did some stuff, and we don’t expect it to be anything serious. We’ll reevaluate (on Saturday).”
That’s encouraging, but the situations on muscle pulls, etc., often change overnight.
Needless to say, any extended absence for Saunders would be a tough blow for an already-inconsistent attack. Even after going 0-for-2 in Friday’s loss, he’s on a 21-for-59 run over the last 16 games, which has hiked his average from .226 to .280.
Today’s notebook had a fond reminiscence by McClendon on his former manager Don Zimmer, who will be honored prior to today’s game after passing away Wednesday at age 83.
There’s also an item on the Mariners’ upcoming pitching plans.
McClendon said he plans to give Hisashi Iwakuma an extra day of rest, as had been scheduled, prior to his next start. That means Iwakuma will start the homestand opener Tuesday against the Yankees — in a marquee matchup against Mashiro Tanaka. (Could be a crowded press box that night.)
What McClendon didn’t do was specify a starter for Monday’s series finale against the Rays. Erasmo Ramirez is still on the roster, but he is unlikely to draw another start after yielding five runs in three innings Tuesday at Atlanta.
The guess here — and that’s all it is, a guess — is the Mariners’ choice comes down to summoning right-hander Matt Palmer from Triple-A Tacoma or recalling a reliever and using the bullpen to cover the game. The likely starter in that case is Tom Wilhelmsen, who worked two innings in Friday’s game.
For Wilhelmsen, in effect, that 36-pitch outing was like a between-starts bullpen workout. Then again, if he pitches today or Sunday, that theory goes out the window.
The Mariners shifted their focus Friday on the second day of the draft from power to pitching. Our Christian Caple has the details. The draft concludes today with rounds 11-to-40. Then comes the business of signing those players.
Early indications suggest catcher/outfielder Alex Jackson, whom the Mariners selected in the first round, will seek a bonus far above the slotted price to lure him away from college. His agent is Scott Boras.
Around the farms
***Triple-A Tacoma swept a doubleheader for the first time in nearly four years. Our T.J. Cotterill has the details.
***Double-A Jackson got a two-run single from Ketel Marte in a four-run eighth that carried the Generals to a 5-1 victory at Birmingham (White Sox). From the Jackson Sun.
***Also, reliever Forest Snow is back with Jackson after serving a 50-game suspension for failing a drug test. Also from the Jackson Sun.
***Hi-A High Desert struck out 18 times in a 6-3 loss at Stockton (A’s). From the Victorville Daily Press.
***Lo-A Clinton squanders a four-run lead in a 12-5 loss at Kane County (Cubs). Committing five errors played a big part. From the LumberKings’ web site.