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May 1, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Johima back, Burke designated for assignment

The Mariners’ lineup has a different, if familiar, look to it tonight as catcher Kenji Johjima is back off the disabled list and hitting seventh.
To make room for Johjima, Jamie Burke has been designated for assignment. The Mariners’ hope is that Burke will clear waivers and head back to Tacoma in 10 days and be available to them later, if needed.
With Johjima back, here’s how the lineup looks tonight:
Ichiro, RF
Endy Chavez, LF
MIke Sweeney, DH
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Russell Branyan, 1B
Jose Lopez, 2B
Kenji Johjima, C
Franklin Gutierrez, CF
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
Carlos Silva, P
Ken Griffey Jr. is getting the night off mostly to make room for the right-handed hitting Sweeney to go against Oakland LH Dana Eveland. Manager Don Wakamatsu said Griffey will be back in the lineup Saturday night against the A’s.
In Johima’s absence, Rob Johnson handled most of the catching duties, the team going 7-5 in his 12 starts and with a perception that some pitchers seemed to thrive with him calling the game.
With Johjima now back, Wakamatsu said “we’ll try to massage” the playing time for each player as things progress.
For now, he said Johjima will catch the next two games with Johnson going on Sunday. For what it’s worth, the team is 5-2 with Johjima behind the plate this season.
Wakamatsu declared that Johjima “is still our starting catcher” but that “we’ll look at certain guys who pitched well with (Johnson) back there.” Of Johnson, Wakamatsu said “he’s done a great job.”
Johjima went on the DL with a right hamstring strain. But he caught three innings in a simulated game on Wednesday and five on Tuesday and made it through just fine, so Wakamatsu said he was ready to come off the DL.
Burke arrived at the park today expecting to play before hearing the news. While others headed into a brief team meeting (nothing serious, looked like some sort of informal thing called by Griffey) Burke stayed behind to pack up his gear.
“You don’t like it,” Burke said. “But you’ve got to feel blessed you are still in a uniform, still being able to play.”
He said he’ll hang out the next three days — a mandated period where the he has to sit out — then wait until next week to see what happens.
— Wakamatsu said the team may DH Ichiro at some point soon with a heavy load of games this month —- only two off days — which would enable them to get Griffey in the field.
— He said P Ryan Rowland-Smith is progressing as expected in his recovery from left biceps tendinitis and may be sent out soon for a rehab assignment.
Jason Vargas is now on the roster, replacing the injured Roy Cocoran in the bullpen. He’ll likely be used in long relief but Wakamatsu said the fact he’s the only left-hander on the roster gives the team some versatility it didn’t have.



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