Yuniesky Betancourt, pictured above at right with second baseman Jose Lopez and coach Eddie Rodriguez, has been moved up to No. 6 in the order for today’s game. Richie Sexson gets a day off and is replaced at first base by Jose Vidro, who hits fifth. Mariners manager John McLaren says he made the Betancourt move to see if it can jumpstart the offense.
“We’ll get him in an RBI slot, see if it helps us out a bit,” McLaren said.
Jeff Clement is the DH, batting 7th, while Wladimir Balentien hits ninth.
“We dropped him down a bit just to see if he can get his feet under him,” McLaren said of Clement, though he could have been talking about Balentien as well.
McLaren and his coaches dined in the Little Italy section of New York last night and debated possible lineup switches to try to snap Seattle out of this four-game losing streak that has pushed it 5 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels. Division titles aren’t won in May, but you sure can lose them this month. McLaren and his coaches know that, which is why he went off on the team yesterday.
“We believe in these guys,” he said. “I’m not just saying that to blow smoke. I believe in these guys. We’re not at the panic point. We’re just losing games we should be winning and at some point it’s going to bit you.”
Oh yeah, McLaren also said: “Today’s the most important game of the year. That’s as simple as I can put it.”
What could these guys be talking about? It’s simple. In the foreground, Lee Elia is telling hitting coach Jeff Pentland that he might want to try unloading on his hitters with a profanity-laced tirade, the way Elia did with reporters during his infamous rant while managing the Cubs a quarter century ago. “Come on, Lee, they’ll never buy that,” Pentland replies. In the background, you have McLaren making his best pitch to former Yankees slugger Paul O’Neill to come out of retirement and serve as his right fielder/DH. Yankee manager Joe Girardi looks on, trying to keep a straight face.
You think? Maybe not? I’ll tell you what, those suggestions will be better than anything else the team is going to come up with if these latest shuffles don’t work out. Barring a trade, or a free-agent signing, there isn’t much else left for the team to do. The hitters have got to hit. Hit better than .200, anyway.