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March 3, 2008 at 9:47 AM

Beltre gone, Vidro hurt

Manager John McLaren said 3B Adrian Beltre has left the team to be with his wife’s family after her grandmother died. Beltre is expected back Wednesday and probably won’t play in a game until Friday.
DH Jose Vidro has a sore right elbow, “nothing major,” McLaren said. “We just don’t want to have him swing during a game and hurt it worse.
Utility player Brant Ust has back spasms and will miss three to five days. Not sure how this happened, but he ran strangely to first base on one at-bat in Sunday’s game.
Vidro could see more time on the field this season, McLaren said, allowing Ichiro to be the DH and giving either 2B Jose Lopez or 1B Richie Sexson a break every now and then. McLaren doesn’t see Vidro as purely a DH.
The starters will play together more consistently as a unit starting around the third week of this month, McLaren said. For now, regulars will play one or two days and then get a day off, but on Wednesday when Seattle hosts the Los Angeles Angels, all but the absent Beltre and perhaps Vidro could start the game.
McLaren was asked if there is a win-or-bust mentality with this team, that anything less than winning the AL West would be a failure.
“Anything less than the playoffs would be a disappointment to me,” McLaren said. “I think the team feels the same way. We feel like we’re a good ball club and we feel like we can be an elite ball club and that’s our mindset.
The thing that enourages McLaren is that the things the team is working on in drills during spring training mornings are carrying over to the games, where they are being implemented.
“We don’t run trick plays,” he continued. “We want fundamentally sound plays and we want to be a fundamentally sound ball club.”
Here’s McLaren talking about the competition for the fourth OF spot, between Mike Morse, Charlton Jimerson, Wladimir Balentien and Jeremy Reed. Morse is the hottest hitter (4-for-6, 5 RBI in three games). Jimerson has scored three runs and stolen two bases. Balentien is 3-for-6 with 2 HRs and 3 RBI.
“It’s going to be tough and I like it,” McLaren said. “I really think competition brings out the best in all of us.”
McLaren also said he has to consider the fact that Jimerson and Morse are out of minor-league options when making the decision on who makes the final roster.
Now on to today’s game. The Chicago Cubs are in Peoria, and McLaren gets to see his longtime friend Lou Piniella, the former M’s manager who now runs the Cubs. Here’s a story on Lou being the Lou we all know and love and remember, plus the fact that the press box here in Peoria is going to be inundated with our comrades from the Japanese media here to see Ichiro play against Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs, the first time the two Japanese star outfielders will meet as U.S. big-leaguers.
“I love seeing Lou,” McLaren said. “It’s going to be nice seeing him and Matt Sinatro (former M’s coach). We all have such history and we’re all so close. I’m sure we’ll have a few good laughs.”
How about a Mariners-Cubs World Series? “Oh boy, about as good as it gets right there,” McLaren said. “That would be something special. Something to shoot for.”
Today’s game is on FSN, 12:05 p.m. Seattle time. Next game on FSN is Sunday, March 16 vs. Milwaukee, a 1:05 start. Tomorrow’s game is in Phoenix against the Oakland Athletics at their stadium, a 12:05 start in Seattle.



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