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May 7, 2008 at 5:32 PM

Armstrong backs McLaren

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Mariners manager John McLaren, pictured above during his pre-game session with reporters, got the ole’ “vote of confidence” from team president Chuck Armstrong moments ago. Armstrong was down on the field talking about the sorry state of Mariners attendance (he says it’s been cold and folks traditionally have other things going on in May), when he was asked about McLaren and the job he’s done.
“I think he’s doing fine,” Armstrong said. “I like our staff, I like the manager. As far as game management, you manage right along with him. It’s been said that there are two things that every male in North America can do better than any other male. One is charcoal a steak and the other is manage a baseball team.”
Armstrong goes on to conclude: “I think Mac is doing a fine job, he’s got a good staff and they give him good support. He has a lot of conversation and he’s providing good leadership to the guys.”
Hear some of Armstrong’s audio right here in this clip.
He says he isn’t happy with what he’s seen from the team so far, but stressed that patience is a virtue in baseball. He harkened back to last summer, when there were early calls to replace a struggling Raul Ibanez in left field before his bat erupted.
That said, Armstrong added that being too patient can come back to haunt a club.
“It is a fine line,” he said. “We have already made moves this year to address what I think are some of the problems.”
Below, see a shot of Armstrong preparing to give a television interview. He’s been in hot demand in recent days, what with his Ken Griffey Jr. comments of a couple of days ago and the poor attendance and overall slumping of the team. On Griffey today, he declined to answer specific questions, which he can’t because of tampering. But he gave no indication Griffey is coming here anytime soon.
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For his part, McLaren says the toughest thing for his team is to get a string of wins going to help offset some of the losses. He says his goal for the team right now is simply to get it back to .500. After that, he said, once the team can feel good about itself again, it can worry about making a move on the division-leading Los Angeles Angels.
“It’s a humbling experience, I’ll be honest with you,” McLaren said.
He’s got .150-hitting Jeff Clement batting sixth tonight, with Yuniesky Betancourt seventh. Betancourt had been hitting sixth on Sunday, then was bumped back to seventh by Betancourt. He’s 1-for-11 since being taken out of the No. 9 slot, including 0-for-8 the past two nights.
“I knew he was comfortable in the No. 9 position,” McLaren said. “I just wanted to try something.”
There is a danger in remaining too fixed, McLaren added. While he doesn’t want to keep changing the batting order every night, if he sees something — like moving Betancourt into an RBI slot — that can help the club, he’s going to try it.
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Speaking of guys in a rut, pictured above, you can see onetime Mariners first baseman/outfielder Ben Broussard in the visitors’ dugout here this afternoon. I chatted with him in the visitors clubhouse moments earlier. He’s hitting only .159 this season and is now scrounging for playing time. He’d been in a 2-for-34 slump before putting hits together in three straight games starting April 25. But since that time, he’s been limited to just seven at-bats in the last eight games.
Chris Shelton is starting at first base for the Rangers tonight. Broussard has been told he’s got to play his way back into the lineup. Tough to do when you’re not playing. He’s trying to stay positive. He’s hoping to make it to 400 at-bats this year because he’s a free-agent next season. Broussard has a $3.8-million guaranteed contract this season so he doesn’t see himself being released. But he figures he could get traded if the Rangers no longer see any use for him.
As for 2009, he knows that Richie Sexson will likely be moving on after this year.
“It’s a small world,” he said. “You never know.”
The lineups:
RANGERS (14-20)
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
10 Michael Young SS
32 Josh Hamilton CF
21 Milton Bradley DH
7 David Murphy RF
41 Brandon Boggs LF
16 Chris Shelton 1B
25 Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
6 German Duran 3B
44 Vicente Padilla RHP
MARINERS (14-20)
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson 1B
9 Jeff Clement DH
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
15 Jamie Burke C
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
45 Erik Bedard LHP



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