Never fails, does it? Write about a guy one day not catching as much as he used to, the next thing you know, he’s getting the bulk of the assignments. That’s what the deal is right now with Kenji Johjima. And no, it’s not a fluke. In fact, you can expect to see it the remainder of the season.
When Johjima began losing playing time to Rob Johnson in early July, a lot of it had to do with the fact Johnson had solid relationships with certain pitchers. Two of those pitchers, Erik Bedard and Jarrod Washburn, are no longer in the rotation. An influx of new pitchers have arrived, including Doug Fister, who goes today, Luke French and Ian Snell. So, the idea is to familiarize Johjima with these guys equal to Johnson. And to not favor one guy over the other. That’s why Johjima has seen his playing time steadily increasing over the past few weeks.
And, with the season essentially done, it’s going to continue as the Mariners figure out what to do next year. Johjima is still under contract for two more seasons and he needs to establish relationships with these guys as he moves forward.
In other news, Sean White (seen above in a photo from yesterday) has been sent back to Seattle to see team medical director Dr. Edward Khalfayan about his sore shoulder. The Mariners are hoping the arm is merely fatigued from White’s career-high workload and not suffering from any structural damage.
“He’s been such a big part of what our bullpen has done this year, you’d hate to lose him the rest of the way,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said this morning. “But we want to have him around for a long time. So, we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.”
I know some of you are getting on Wakamatsu for sticking with Miguel Batista in last night’s eighth inning. The thing is, the team is trying to spare the arms of its late-inning relievers and doesn’t have White available. You’re going to see more of this conservation stuff moving forward and it might cost the teams some runs — especially when it’s trailing in games. The Mariners are not going to get their set-up men or closer warmed up in a game they trail in. Also, they have to save arms for future games, including possible blowouts. So, in other words, pitchers like Batista are going to have to “eat it” if they can’t get guys out in games the team is losing.
Ken Griffey Jr.’s knee is said to be improving, but he won’t be in the starting lineup until at least Wednesday, when the M’s face righthander Jered Weaver in Anaheim.
Witnessed an amusing exchange in the corridor outside the visiting clubhouse today. This is an old ballpark and the hallway leading from the clubhouse to the weightroom leads right past the umpire’s dressing room. Well, Adrian Beltre was coming back from lifting weights and had bumped in to some of the umpires as they were entering their room. He was laughing with one of them, who told him: “If you point at me, I’m going to ring you up, I swear to God!”
Didn’t catch who it was and the comment was made good naturedly, even though the ump in question followed with: “I’m serious!”
Beltre was laughing the whole way, so please, don’t take the quotes out of context. But Beltre does do that odd thing of pointing at the first base umpire on checked swings — even when the home plate umpire rules it a “ball” in the hitter’s favor.
“I don’t trust the guy behind the plate to see it as good,” Beltre said. “Especially because I have a lot of shoulder movement on my swing, so it can sometimes make it look like I’m going around when I checked it.”
Beltre doesn’t know whether anyone else in baseball does this. “I just want them to get it right,” he said. “Even if it’s a strike, I’d rather the other guy call it than the guy behind the plate because I know he can see it better,”
On the Russell Branyan front, he is also said to be improving, and the team remains hopeful he can make it back this season. The middle of the month has been targetted as a possible return date, but there’s nothing hard and fast to it.