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June 3, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Fontaine: Morrow pick was fine

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A look at the Mariners this afternoon, taking early pitchers fielding practice at 3:30 p.m. They do this once in a while. No better time than the present. This team could stand to gain from defensive improvement at all positions. Two more errors last night.
By the way, Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees made his first start an hour ago. Lasted only 62 pitches, 37 of them coming in the first inning. He was on a pitch count and got yanked in the third inning. Not exaclty what the Yankees had in mind. Much debate sure to follow. Especially here, where some folks feel the Mariners should go the Chamberlain route with Brandon Morrow.
Here’s what M’s draft guru Bob Fontaine, in town preparing for Thursday’s draft, had to say this afternoon about whether Morrow has to eventually start in order to justify the first round pick used on him two years ago.
“Let me tell you something,” he said. “I don’t look at having to be justified. I’ve done this so long, if I have to feel everything we do is under a crystal ball and has to be justified — and I’m going to worry about it — I’m going to make a lot of mistakes.
“If Brandon Morrow is helping us, that’s what counts. Can he start? Of course he can start. I believe he’s a starter. Our scouts believe he’s a starter. We scouted him as a starter. When the time comes if he’s a starter here, I believe he’s going to be an outstanding starter. But in the meantime, he’s going to be and is an outstanding reliever. If that’s what’s best for this club…that’s one of the things we liked about Brandon, that he could do both things, and fill a need for you when you needed it.”
Wladimir Balentien is back in right field tonight against the lefty, Joe Saunders. Jeremy Reed, a lefty bat, gets a seat after three straight starts and an error last night. I guess Balentien got all the stuff he needed to worked out with hitting coach Jeff Pentland. Either that, or lefty-righty matchups take precedence.
Mariners manager John McLaren is growing weary of these pre and post-game sessions with the media. The problem is, he’s said all there is to say. But his team keeps losing. McLaren surprised me today by actually agreeing to field a question about how the Angels, who’ve had adversity, injuries and a struggling offense to deal with so far, manage to keep on winning.
“They find a way,” McLaren said.
Which his team does not.
By the way, the M’s have caught a break ahead of this weekend’s series at Fenway Park. They won’t have to face David Ortiz. For Fish in the comments thread, the M’s pick 20th in tomorrow’s draft.


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A look at wider-stanced Richie Sexson smoking a line drive during batting practice. If you look up, you can make out the blur of the ball.
The lineups:
ANGELS (35-24)
77 Reggie Willits LF
6 Maicer Izturis SS
47 Howie Kendrick 2B
48 Torii Hunter CF
16 Garret Anderson DH
24 Gary Matthews Jr. RF
35 Casey Kotchman 1B
39 Robb Quinlan 3B
5 Jeff Mathis C
51 Joe Saunders LHP
MARINERS (21-37)
51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
3 Jose Vidro DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
44 Richie Sexson 1B
50 Wladimir Balentien RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
45 Erik Bedard LHP

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