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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 5, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Mariners-Rangers notes, May 5

It’s pinch-hitters day at the park again. I’m standing in for Geoff Baker. For you M’s fans of a decade or more, think of it as Bob Ayrault or Allen Watson in a spot start for Randy Johnson at the Kingdome.
Now that Yuniesky Betancourt has broken through, could Adrian Beltre be next?
Monday night in the ninth inning against Texas, Betancourt finally drew his first walk of the season in his 97th plate appearance, which was the longest current streak without a free pass in major-league baseball.
Even by Betancourt’s free-swinging standards, that was a long time to go without. Entering today’s game, he had 1,958 career at-bats, and the belated walk was No. 61 for him.
According to Fangraphs.com, Betancourt swings at 44.2 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. For comparison, the major-league leader in that department is Toronto’s Marco Scutaro, who swings at only 9.3 percent of such pitches.
So with Betancourt’s little oddity taken care of, the next Mariners priority is to get Beltre hitting the long ball again. Beltre, who led the M’s with 25 homers a year ago, hasn’t yet connected in 26 games in 2009.
“When you get off to a tough start, the anxiety and pride to carry this club magnifies,” said manager Don Wakamatsu before today’s game.
Wakamatsu said he liked Beltre’s “two-strike approach” in Sunday’s marathon win over Oakland, in which the Dominican third baseman had a key single to ignite a three-run 13th inning. And he pointed out Beltre, who was batting well below .200, had good at-bats in Chicago last week, leading to a 4-for-4 day Wednesday.
Beltre followed that with a 4-for-15 weekend against Oakland but went 0 for 4 in the opener of the Rangers series.
“So there are signs he’s coming out of this thing,” Wakamatsu said. “He’ll be fine.”
Notes
Ken Griffey Jr. is still feeling effects of a colon condition and probably won’t be available until the opener of the two-game series Wednesday at Kansas City, Wakamatsu said.
Brandon Morrow threw without incident Monday and probably will again in KC and should be available this weekend in Minnesota.
Ryan Rowland-Smith’s recovery from triceps tendinitis should bring him to a simulated game at the tail end of the eight-game road trip in Texas. If he progresses, he probably will have a couple of rehab starts before rejoining the club.

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