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March 7, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Beltre’s left thumb, and being patient

3B Adrian Beltre won’t participate in baseball drills today because of a sore left thumb. It’s the same one he sprained last season and missed five starts in June. This injury happened when a hard ground ball in yesterday’s game caught on the “meat” of the thumb (the lower part) on his glove hand. Beltre is expected to be available to play tomorrow.
Manager John McLaren talked about the competition as the M’s seek to find a replacement for George Sherrill, the departed left-handed setup man from last season. Those in the mix include Eric O’Flaherty, Cesar Jimenez, Jake Woods and to a lesser extent Ryan Rowland-Smith and Ryan Feierabend, though they are viewed more as long relievers.
“These guys are competing,” McLaren said. “We’ve got some guys who know that position’s open. You can see the intensity starting to pick up between those guys.”
“I don’t have a timeframe for myself. It’s not something like the starting rotation where we felt we had to address. This is something that’s going to work its way through as we go through spring training.”
But he had some praise for Jimenez, who got the save yesterday.
“He was lights out in winter ball. The thing I like about him is that he uses both sides of the plate and he’s got a good changeup. He’s somebody who was definitely on the radar screen coming to spring training and he’s done nothing but strengthen himself here. I like what I’ve seen.”
McLaren plans to hand out a sheet of paper to hitters with some figures to illustrate patience, or lack thereof, at the plate. For example, what each hitter did on the first pitch, what he did on a 1-1 count, 2-1 count, etc.
“It will paint a picture for each of our hitters and they’ll see that they don’t hit well in certain counts,” McLaren said. “Sometimes it tells you that they’ve got their minds made up for that pitch no matter what it is. It’s an ongoing process. It’s not going to happen overnight.
“You’d be surprised what some of our hitters hit in certain counts. There’s one in particular who just stands out, and you shake your head and don’t know how it happened,” McLaren added.

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