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June 3, 2009 at 6:19 PM

Mariners plan to ride out Russell Branyan in No. 2 spot experiment

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Off to a bit of a late start today. I actually forgot my laptop computer back in Magnolia — brought the bag, but it proved empty upon arrival — so after doing the Don Wakamatsu pre-game scrum, I had to head back there to fetch it, then come back. Caught some of the presser with scouting director Tom McNamara as well. So, here we are. Ichiro takes a team record 26-game hitting streak into tonight. Watch for that first plate appearance of the night. He’s been getting hits in that spot the past week.
Wakamatsu says he’s going to stick with Russell Branyan in the No. 2 spot for the time being. He likes what he saw from the lineup last night.
“Everybody wants to look at Russell as a No. 3 or No. 4 hole hitter,” Wakamatsu said. “Again, I think it might have been a little bit different if the other guys were really on fire or something like that. Who knows down the road? But I wouldn’t have made that move if i didn’t think Russell was making that adjustment to lay off some pitches.”
Wakamatsu discussed the possible moves with his coaching staff for a while. Then, he talked about it with GM Jack Zduriencik and says it was not a tough sell — that Zduriencik was actually thinking the exact same thing beforehnad.
I even asked Wakamatsu, off the cuff, if he thought the new move had something to do with Ken Griffey Jr. launching that home run and the two doubles last night. Remember, Griffey has drawn a lot of walks this season. It’s possible he’s been getting pitched around with no one on base in order to get to Branyan — who, obviopusly, is making the most of that. I ran that theory by Wakamatsu — that Griffey now could be seeing better pitches with more guys on in front of him.
“i think so, yeah,” he said. “You’ve got first and second in a situation and now you’ve got to pitch with Griff. Not have a base open, or two bases open.”
So, has Griffey been getting pitches to hit and just missed them? Or are the good pitches few and far between?
“I think they do pitch around him quite a bit,” he said. “It’s the same thing, though, even with a veteran like that. When it starts going south, even he wants to start to chase a bit. Just the whole feel of yesterday’s game. It was more of a fun atmosphere, obviously, rather than, ‘We’ve got to get this done.’ ”
Let’s see what happens tonight.
By the way, reliever Roy Corcoran threw a 33-pitch simulated game this afternoon and the team will now look to send him on a rehab assignment this weekend with Class AAA Tacoma. Corcoran has been healthy enough to throw for some time, but this was a matter of him getting his command back.
Tonight’s lineups see Ronny Cedeno in left field. Cedeno has not played much of late and the team wants to keep him fresh. So, he faces the righty.
2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
1B Aubry huff
3B Melvin Mora
DH Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
SS Cesar Izturis
RHP Brad Bergesen
RF Ichiro
1B Russell Branyan
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
2B Jose Lopez
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
C Rob Johnson
LFD Ronny Cedeno
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LHP Jason Vargas



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