The Mariners have their work cut out for them if they are to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks today. Yes, there is Felix Hernandez on the mound. And that means the Mariners could win simply by scoring two runs. But they will have to earn those runs with a lineup consisting primarily of Class AAA call-ups and backups.
Adrian Beltre is going to sit out today in hopes of getting his re-aggravated shoulder problem healed. Ken Griffey Jr.’s knee is still too sore to play, though he is available for pinch-hit duty.
Russell Branyan can’t play in anything but an absolute emergency role after taking that pitch off his forearm. Jose Lopez is still in Venezuela. Even closer David Aardsma is not available, having worked four of the past five games.
So, we’ll see Mike Carp at first base, Chris Woodward at third base. Wladimir Balentien is in left, Jamie Burke will catch and Ronny Cedeno plays second.
Woodward is living the dream at the moment, having gone 4-for-7 (.575) with a walk, a stolen base and two runs scored in two straight games starting in the infield. He hadn’t played in the majors since 2007 with the Atlanta Braves. Hasn’t played regularly since 2004 in Toronto. At age 32, his goal had been simply to make it back to the majors in any capacity.
“I can’t even describe it,” he said of his present feeling. “It was nice just getting a chance to play in AAA again. It’s difficult to really put a good year together when you’re not getting consistent at-bats. Coming up here again gave me a little confidence, so we’ll just see how long it lasts and take it from there.”
Woodward had 607 major league games under his belt before this year. But he admits these last two have felt special like few he’s ever played — and he was on a playoff team with the Mets.
“I tell everybody, when you’re in the big leagues, it goes by so fast,” he said. “It’s hard to say that you take it for granted, but maybe, yeah, maybe I did just a little. It’s just a different type of satisfaction putting on the uniform now.”
Another new arrival, infielder Josh Wilson, is getting used to hearing jokes about his mobility, now that he’s with his ninth organization since being drafted by Florida in 1999.
“I’ve got stuff on everybody,” he deadpanned. “I can tell you what they’re going to swing at, what pitches they’ll throw in certain situations.”
On a more serious note, Wilson has learned to take it as a compliment that he keeps getting picked up off waivers. He began the season in Arizona when Stephen Drew got hurt, then signed with San Diego after shortstop Luis Rodriguez went down. Problem is, both guys got healthy and he had to move on.
“It’s always a bummer to find out you’ve been put on waivers,” he said. “But to get claimed, that tells you there’s something about you that somebody likes. It’s when you don’t get claimed that you have a problem.”
Though a natural shortstop as a professional, he’s actually played more third base in the majors.
“I grew up playing all positions, catching primarily,” he said.
Just what the team needs: another catcher.
Speaking of which, Kenji Johjima caught four innings for Class AAA Tacoma yesterday, going 1-for-2 with a line drive single up the middle. He’ll get some DH time today.
“He’ll get a couple of at-bats, and then we’ll re-evaluate,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I’d still like to see him catch the full nine innings.”
In other words, Johjima won’t rejoin the Mariners until they leave on their road trip later this week. That’s also when the team expects to send reliever Shawn Kelley out on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Kelley could rejoin the squad for a series with the Texas Rangers just before the All-Star Break.
June 21, 2009 at 12:11 PM