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

July 1, 2009 at 1:26 PM

Wladimir Balentien, Rob Johnson in for Mariners against lefty

That’s a mighty foreboding sky we have here as the New York Yankees get set for batting practice. It looks and feels like the skies are about to open up. Hopefully, if they do, it happens quickly so that the game’s start time will not be delayed. No, it isn’t my camera exposure. It really is that dark here at the moment and you can feel the moisture in the air.
The Mariners have made some lineup adjustments as they get set to face Andy Pettitte.

For one thing, Wladimir Balentien will be starting in left field. That’s not unusual. since Ryan Langerhans is here primarily to face righties. So, Balentien’s limited playing time will come tonight. When the M’s made that deal over the weekend, it was a sign that they’ve seen enough of Balentien as an everyday player.
Seems like just yesterday we were having that whole debate about whether to trade Balentien for a right handed set-up man to possibly save Seattle’s playoff…oh, let’s forget about it. Ancient history.
Rob Johnson will be behind the plate tonight with Jarrod Washburn on the mound. Kenji Johjima takes a seat. Washburn and Johnson have worked well together as a battery and if ever the M’s needed a starter to go deeper, tonight would be it. With Jason Vargas going tomorrow — he’s gone six innings just once his last five outings — the Mariners need the bullpen as rested as possible.
Still no word on Erik Bedard and whether he goes on Saturday. A coach I spoke to said Bedard had good stuff in yesterday’s 45-pitch bullpen session. But 45 pitches gets you about 2 2/3 innings against Boston. We’ll see if there’s any word later.
Chris Woodward is back in at third base. Jose Lopez took some grounders at third in early BP. As manager Don Wakamatsu told us all yesterday, the team might switch Lopez over to third during the next homestand. At some point, likely against Texas, we could see Yuniesky Betancourt move to second base. But that’s not quite certain as of yet, which is why I didn’t make a big deal out of it yesterday. It isn’t just a matter of interchanging pieces like they’re on a chessboard. One big worry of switching a shortstop over to second is that you want to make sure he can handle the double-play pivot. All it takes is one brain cramp — from Betancourt? Nah! — and the new second baseman can get killed by the incoming runner.
So, we’ll see.
Mariners lineup:
RF Ichiro
1B Russell Branyan
2B Jose Lopez
DH Ken Griffey Jr.
CF Franklin Gutierrez
LF Wladimir Balentien
3B Chris Woodward
C Rob Johnson
SS Ronny Cedeno
LHP Jarrod Washburn

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