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July 21, 2009 at 2:35 PM

No decision on fifth starter

That’s Tigers manager Jim Leyland hitting fungoes during batting practice today at Comerica Park. Now that’s a great word — fungoes.
The definitive word on the Mariners’ fifth starter will likely come tomorrow, manager Don Wakamatsu said. That gives them a chance to watch Garrett Olson tonight against the Tigers. If he has another stinker, they might be looking for both a fourth and fifth starter.
Wakamatsu said the team is looking at giving Erik Bedard an extra day’s rest before his next start. It had been scheduled for Friday against the Indians, but if they push it back, that would make it Saturday, and leave Friday’s start for the mystery No. 5 starter — either Jason Vargas or Ryan Rowland-Smith, most likely, since Brandon Morrow’s start for Tacoma the other day didn’t exactly earn raves from Wakamatsu. Morrow gave up four runs in the first inning.
“The things that we talked about him working on, I didn’t think we accomplished,” Wakamatsu said. “No. 1, he walked the first hitter on four pitches so the command overall was not what we were looking for. Second, with his secondary pitches, we talked about going a little bit hard and soft, and we didn’t see that also. When he tried to throw his curveball, he yanked it out of the zone. Again, we just keep going back and try to reiterate what’s going to make these guys successful at the major league level.”

Morrow is scheduled to make his next start for Tacoma on Friday, but it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to return to the majors. Vargas pitched last night for Tacoma and so would be on three day’s rest if he were to get the Friday start. Vargas got the loss against Tacoma, working six innings and giving up nine hits and three runs, with one walk and four strikeouts.
Wakamatsu said the reports on Vargas “weren’t great. I think that the command was the biggest issues. You end up having a couple good innings, and I think the fourth is where he ended up giving up two runs on three hits and a walk. Not exactly what we were looking for.”
Vargas would be working on three day’s rest if the Mariners choose him to go Friday. So that could leave Friday’s start in the hands of Rowland-Smith, who had a strong outing in his last start Friday. Rowland-Smith is scheduled to pitch tomorrow for Tacoma. If he’s scratched, that’s a good clue he’ll be making his next start for the Mariners.
Another possibility is that Bedard pitches Friday on normal rest, and Vargas pitches Saturday on normal rest. We’ll find out soon enough
A couple of other quotes from Wakamatsu:
On the status of Ken Griffey Jr.’s knee: “He doesn’t say much about it. I just think it’s there. At different points in the year when we played the National League and he had to play on the field, it got sore. It’s not as strong as he’d like it, but there’s a not of pain in there, either.”
On Sweeney being activated and Chris Shelton remaining on the roster: “That gives us an opportunity to keep his bat on the bench. It also gives us an extra first baseman, gives us that luxury to see how Sweeney reacts with his back.”
On Griffey and Russ Branyan attacking the shift that they’re seeing more and more often, with the opposing team putting three infielders on the right side: “When they’re swinging good, they’re not hitting the ball on the ground, so the shift doesn’t have a lot of effect. I think the best way to attack it is not to look at it, in a sense. The more you look at it, you’re a little more aggressive on pitches you can’t get in the air. Both those guys are fly ball hitters. It doesn’t have much affect when they hit it in the air. It’s when they tend to chase the sinker a little more, or try to do too much. We’ll see if it’s as pronounced with Detroit as it was with Cleveland. Good pitch selection always kind of cures that.”
On how players deal with the impending trade deadline: “Players today are a lot more educated because of the amount of media out there. I doint think a lot of guys talk about it in the clubhouse or think a whole lot about it right now. I think the biggest thought is that everybody wants to be a part of what’s going on, and thats the way I like it.”



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