The Oakland Athletics are still taking some batting practice as I write this.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu talked this morning about the need to give some players rest. He mentioned Jose Lopez having some general issues with his legs, related to long term wear and tear. He also discussed the need to get Ronny Cedeno more playing time, which he will today at Lopez’s second base spot.
What he did not mention was Lopez having already grounded into 10 double-plays before this season is even two months old. That includes last night’s rally-killer in the first inning.
Now, Lopez has some pretty good American League company in that regard. Mike Lowell of the Red Sox leads the AL with 12 GIDPs. And Lopez is tied for second most with Dustin Pedroia and Adrian Beltre.
So, the Red Sox have seen their second base and third base combo also hit into a ton of double-plays.
But do I really have to state the obvious here? The M’s would be able to live with Beltre and lopez’s double play grounders if they could hit the way Lowell and Pedroia, the reigning AL MVP, do the rest of the time.
Some more information for you from this morning:
Roy Corcoran — remember him? — still has a bit of work ahead of him before he gets sent out on a minor league rehab assignment. He threw 33 pitches in a simulated game yesterday, but had some struggles with his command.
He says the plan is now to throw two more bullpen sessions, on Friday and Sunday in Anaheim, then go out for another simulated game. Originally, the plan had been to have the simulated game and then do the rehab stint.
“I feel like I need a little more time off the mound,” he told me this morning. “I haven’t pitched in a month and I didn’t pick up a ball the first two weeks after that.”
Corcoran is relieved that he’s healthy and isn’t struggling because of some physical difficulty. All it is, he said, is rust.
“It’s a little frustrating, but it will be good for me,” he said.
It’s frustrating for Corcoran because he’s been hanging around the team and wants to contribute. The bullpen has been caught a bit short of late. Sean White wasn’t available last night because he’d been feeling a bit worn out and the staff wanted him to have a night off.
Brandon Morrow threw 52 pitches on Monday, so he wasn’t available either.
So, really, with a lead and the game on the line, the team had to go with Miguel Batista, Mark Lowe and David Aardsma the final three innings. Once Batista, who’d been doing really well of late, lost his command, the team had to go with Lowe early and stick with him — saving Aardsma for the final outs of the game if it came to that.
Once again, this is why teams carry 12 pitchers. The injuries to rotation mainstay arms the past month have required the bullpen to pick up more innings and you need plenty of relievers to do that.
Now, those relievers are a bit worn out. That prevents the team from dropping down to 11 pitchers and perhaps adding a bat.
On the other injury front, catcher Kenji Johjima is back in Seattle, having had his toe diagnosed as being fractured in three places. The team is sticking by its evaluation of a six-to-eight-week layoff for Johjima, but plans an aggressive form of rehab to get his return closer to the six weeks.
Wakamatsu said today that: “We’ll probably start when we get back off the road trip, to do some upper body exercises with him.”
The goal is to have Johjima as physically ready to go as possible, once his toe heals.
Wakamatsu was pleased to see the double from Rob Johnson last night. Johnson is back in there today, while backup Guillermo Quiroz has been told he’ll likely start one of the games in Anaheim this weekend.
Johnson was also relieved to get the double, in a season that sees him hitting .192 with almost no power.
“Hitting’s a lot about confidence,” he said. “And that’ll help me out a little bit. Sometimes it takes a drag bunt, sometimes it takes a bloop hit.”