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August 27, 2010 at 4:52 PM

Mariners pre-game notes — Littlewood in the house

Covering the Mariners in place of Geoff Baker tonight, and lots has changed since I was last here in June on what was the team’s Family Day. My last memory of this press box before today was seeing Cliff Lee and his family posing for pictures along the first base line.
The focus of this season obviously changed long ago.
But it was reinforced here today when the big pre-game news was that the team’s second-round pick, Marcus Littlewood, was in town to take some batting practice (that’s him being interviewed in the dugout).
Littlewood, a switch-hitter who will start his Mariner career at shortstop, signed on the deadline last week for a reported $900,000.
Not that he’s gotten to enjoy it yet — he won’t get any money until 30 days after his physical, which he took last week.
Littlewood took some batting practice early, then was expected to take some more in the last group of the regular session.
“It’s awesome,” he said of hitting in a Major League park in a Major League uniform. “Hopefully in a couple of years I have the same opportunity.”
Littlewood spent the last few days at the Arizona Rookie League. He said after his weekend here he’ll get ready for the Instructional League in September, then take the off-season to prepare for spring training.
He was the 67th overall pick in the draft and had already signed with University of San Diego, which he said complicated his decision to sign.
“It was stressful for about a month coming up to the deadline,” he said. “It was such a relief to sign and get it over with. Every single day it was contemplating the pros and cons of both sides, school or pro ball reall. I’m happy I got the chance to sign.”
Littlewood said he’s 6-3 and 195 — he was the Utah state high school player of the year last spring as a senior, hitting .538 with eight homers and 27 RBI.
While he’ll start at shortstop, he said he’s happy to move if the team wants.
“If i have to move, it’s fine,” he said. “I don’t have any problem with moving. I played every infield position, so I feel comfortable at any of those spots.”
Littlewood said he didn’t know if he hit any out, saying that he didn’t look because
“it’s not what you do. You kind of hit it and go after the next one.”
— In the only real news to emerge from manager Daren Brown’s pre-game meeting with the media, he said that an MRI on Michael Saunders’ right shoulder showed no damage and he could be back Monday. Saunders hurt his shoulder running into the wall against Texas during the last homestand. He’d still been bothered by it during the last road trip so they had the MRI. “There’s no damage,” Brown said. “It will be a couple days before he’s ready to go as far as throwing and swinging the bat, but we’re looking at he should be ready to go on Monday, which is good news for us and frees his mind up a little bit that there’s nothing wrong.”
— There’s been lots of conjecture about the Mariners shutting down prized AAA pitcher Michael Pineda for the rest of the year. But word here today is that no decision has been made yet, though it could come in a couple days.
— The Twins acquired reliever and former Mariner Brian Fuentes today from the Angels for a player to be named later (though probably not Joe Maurer). But he won’t be here until Saturday.
Finally, here’s the lineup for tonight:
Ichiro, RF
Chone Figgins, 2B
Russell Branyan, DH
Jose Lopez, 3B
Casey Kotchman, 1B
Franklin Guiterrez, CF
Adam Moore, C
Matt Tuiasosopo, LF
Josh Wilson, SS
Denard Span, CF
Orlando Hudson, 2B
Joe Maurer, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Danny Valencia, 3B
Jason Repko, RF
Alexi Casilla, SS
Drew Butera, C

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