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April 1, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Shelton cut

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Don’t forget Geoff Baker Live! coming up at 11 a.m.
A shot, above, of Ken Griffey Jr. and his football-playing son, Trey, working out with the team this morning. No, they aren’t practising their Disco Inferno routine. Just engaging in some bizarre-looking team stetches designed to loosen up the legs and upper body. The addition of a younger Griffey was needed because the ranks are a little thinner this morning.
The Mariners just cut Chris Shelton, Randy Messenger and Garrett Olson, sending all down to minor league camp. Lefty reliever Cesar Jimenez has also been placed on the 15-day DL, namely because he could not go two innings at any point.
We’ve been telling you this for a while now, but this means Mike Sweeney will be the right handed platoon partner at first base and some DH duties as well.
Shelton obviously did just about all he could at the plate.
I asked manager Don Wakamatsu moments ago what the reasoning was behind his decision.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with (Shelton),” he said. “We saw a lot and he did a great job here. It’s more, I think, our options at the major league level and the direction we’re heading. We felt better that he go down to AAA and continue to be accessible.”
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In other words, the M’s are carrying 12 pitchers north. That leaves room for a four-man bench and Sweeney was alwasy going to be on it for a myriad of reasons as long as he could still hit. He still can.
What did Wakamatsu see in Shelton?
“I think he’s a professional hitter,” he said. “He’s somebody you can trust and the plate and gives you a good at-bat. Probably one of the things that really impressed me about him is how studious he was. He’d break down every at-bat he had. There’s a method to the way he goes about his business. Professionalism.”
And yes, Shelton could be back up here this season.
“Just the fact that we’re looking to go a different route is no knock on him at all,” Wakamatsu said.
The demotions of Messenger and Olson were not a surprise. Messenger had given up 14 runs his last 4 1/3 innings and essentially played himself off the team. The Mariners also see Olson as more of a starter than a reliever and want him to keep working towards that goal in Class AAA. He could be back up here if one of the starters gets hurt or traded.
Wakamatsu also said he’ll probably set the rotation later today after he talks to some guys. The fifth starter role will come down to either Ryan Rowland-Smith or Chris Jakubauskas.
By the way, Ichiro was here briefly today, but Wakamatsu sent him home. Ichiro wanted to take some batting practice but the manager wants him 100 percent for the start of the regular season. He should be back out there tomorrow. No, there is no need to panic. Ichiro is simply a little burned out — drained, if you will — from that emotional WBC win with Team Japan. He put a ton of pressure on himself at that tournament, as several accounts from Japanese media are now showing. He needs a couple of days off.



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