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June 5, 2007 at 5:22 PM

Lineup tinkering

Richie Sexson has a sore calf and is sitting out tonight’s game, leaving some interesting developments where the lineup is concerned. Jose Vidro and his sore finger are back in there, but have been bumped down to the No. 6 spot in the order. Kenji Johjima goes up to No. 5, while Ben Broussard, tonight’s first baseman, is down at No. 7.
Adrian Beltre is still out, but manager Mike Hargrove met with him in his office a little while ago and is going to wait until after batting practice to decide whether or not he’ll play.
For now, here’s the Mariners lineup:
CF Ichiro
2B Jose Lopez
RF Jose Guillen
LF Raul Ibanez
C Kenji Johjima
DH Jose Vidro
1B Ben Broussard
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Willie Bloomquist
Hargrove is very pleased with Jose Lopez in the No. 2 spot. Lopez is 6-for-10 with two doubles, five runs batted in and two runs scored since moving up to near the top of the order on Sunday. The manager even thought about hitting Lopez fifth tonight before backing off.
“I hit him second last year some,” Hargrove said. “With Vidro being down, (bench coach John McLaren) put him in there and he was swinging the bat good before he got in there, so it worked. With Richie and Beltre out of the lineup, I thought about hitting him fifth or sixth. And I felt like, right now, that’s such a big difference, such a change from hitting ninth to second — going to an RBI spot — that I’d rather have Vidro do it.”
Nor will Hargrove consider moving the red hot Yuniesky Betancourt to an RBI spot. Betancourt enters tonight with a 16-game hitting streak, but Hargrove would rather not place extra pressure on him with added responsibility higher in the order.
Asked around about Felix Hernandez. No, the team is not worried about his health. They are monitoring that situation very closely and would not be sending him out there with even the slightest concern that he is hurt.
Body language is another matter. Pitching coach Rafael Chaves agreed that Hernandez isn’t going to be displaying the same confident look that he did when he was mowing down the Red Sox and A’s earlier in the season.
“Anybody who is not having the success they want to have is not going to have the confidence that they need,” Chaves said. “You’re going to get confidence when you have success. And right now, he’s not having the success we want him to have. He’s not having the success he knows he can have. And obviously, your body language is going to change with that.”
But Chaves is not looking at Hernandez’s season through the same eyes others might be. He sees those first two outings of the season as an example of everything going right for a pitcher. It set the bar very high and Chaves suggests it might have been a little too high.
The success the team wants out of their 21-year-old, in only his second full season. is to see Hernandez show more consistency on a pitch-by-pitch basis. They want him to keep the team in a position to win, the way he did on Monday is holding the score at 4-3 through into the sixth inning. After that basic consistency is established, the team feels the wins will come. So, that’s how he’s being judged for now. Obviously, the club wants more seven-inning stints, fewer extra-base hits allowed and better command. But they are not expecting an ace who one-hits the Red Sox every time out.



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