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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

March 16, 2007 at 10:59 AM

Mariners vs. Royals

Here are the lineups for this afternoon’s game, which starts at 1:05 p.m. here at Peoria Stadium. Another beautiful day. It will get more beautiful for the Mariners if they get some good news on the J.J. Putz MRI. Even better news if he can start throwing in time to start the regular season. Not looking very likely.
Kansas City Royals (8-8)
2 Joey Gathright, CF
30 Alex Gonzalez, 3B
11 Ross Gload, 1B
35 Emil Brown, LF
21 Billy Butler, RF
14 John Buck, C
64 Matt Tupman, DH
4 Angel Berroa, SS
13 Andres Blanco, 2B
40 Brian Bannister, RHP
Seattle Mariners (4-12)
51 Ichiro Suzuki, CF
29 Adrian Beltre, 3B
5 Jose Vidro, DH
28 Raul IbaƱez, LF
44 Richie Sexson, 1B
23 Ben Broussard, RF
2 Kenji Johjima, C
4 Jose Lopez, 2B
16 Willie Bloomquist, SS
43 Miguel Batista, RHP
Guess Jose Guillen’s ribs still aren’t right. Some things to consider…
Vidro has a .400 on-base percentage heading into today’s game. Asked manager Mike Hargrove about whether he’s getting everything he wants out of Vidro and he assured me he is. That means, .387 slugging percentage or not, Vidro appears to be the No. 3 hitter heading into the regular season. It also means the “sluggers” in the lineup will have to start slugging more than they’re accustomed to early on. Hello Adrian Beltre and especially you, Richie Sexson.
A team would likely be able to survive a No. 3-hitting DH will a sub-.400 slugging percentage, so long as his OBP stays at about the .380 clip Vidro has shown he can produce. But the M’s will not survive anything as long as Raul Ibanez remains the only guy in the top-five who can come close to a .500 slugging percentage in the first-half of the regular season. I understand what the Mariners are doing with Vidro — especially given that Ichiro gets on so often, low walk rate or not, and Beltre looks very comfortable in the No. 2 slot.
Beltre has provided a reason to keep this unusual batting order the way Hargrove keeps filling it in. He also has a .400 on-base percentage and a .348 batting average thus far. Heading into today (and yes, I realize the sample size is very small) the M’s have at least a .387 OBP out of their top four hitters. Hargrove used to enjoy that type of production during his Cleveland Indians days when Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Robbie Alomar, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez terrorized opponents — and not necessarily via the power route up top. Not saying the current crop should be mentioned in the same breath, just that you can see some of the thinking behind putting a sub-20-homer guy as your third hitter.
Then, there’s the Richie Sexson watch. So far, he’s 2-for-25 with two RBIs this spring. One of the more humorous moments of last night’s 5-3 loss to the Giants came when Sexson — having stranded his daily truckload of baserunners already to that point — came to the plate in the eighth.
“I hope you strike out Richie!” one leather-lunged fan shouted, shattering the silence that had engulfed the stadium.
If Sexson didn’t hear the fan, he was the only one in the stadium who could make that claim. Seconds later, he hit a weak fly ball to cap another hitless game.
The point of this anecdote is not to mock Sexson. It is to show that, even though it is spring training, Mariners fans are already showing thin patience with him. He’s got two weeks to get his swing right because the pressure will be on once the games start to count and a slow start like last season could make for some ugly scenes with hostile Safeco Field fans.



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