It’s a pretty quiet day here at Safeco Field, as the Mariners try to break their five-game losing streak against the Twins. Overall, they have lost six of their last seven.
Outfielder Michael Saunders, who hasn’t played since Aug. 21 at Yankee Stadium, took swings off a tee today to test his right shoulder, which he bruised colliding with the wall on Aug. 5 against Texas. If he responds well to that, the plan is for Saunders to take batting practice Monday, and provided there are no problems, start against the Angels on Monday night.
“Depending on how he responds, he should be ready to go tomorrow,” manager Daren Brown said.
Brown discussed yesterday’s decision to shut down 21-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda, the top prospect in the organization. Brown, of course, managed Pineda in Tacoma before moving up to replace Don Wakamatsu.
Asked about how he expected Pineda to react to the decision, Brown said, “He’s a real competitive kid. I don’t know if I’ve had a kid that took not performing well as hard as he did. You could see it on his face after games he didn’t throw as well as he’d like, and it crushed him a little bit. At the same time, I think the kid trusts we’re doing what’s best for him, and what’s best for his future. I’m sure he’ll understand that.”
Brown said Pineda’s competitiveness is reminiscent of Felix Hernandez.
“We can grade out fastballs, grade out offspeed pitches. One thing that’s tough to grade is competitiveness. How much he wants to go out there, and how much he wants to win. I think he’s shown he wants to be exceptional every time he goes out. I think that’s a quality that’s hard to measure, but most elite pitchers, elite players, have that quality.”
I asked Brown if he thinks Pineda is ready to compete for a job on next year’s Mariner staff, as general manager Jack Zduriencik said he would in spring training.
“What I’ve seen stuff wise, and the way he handles himself on the mound, he’s there where he’ll be someone you take a really hard look at,” he said. “The stuff, there’s not too many guys who have the kind of stuff he has. To say he’s ready, he’ll be able to show that. I think, for me, what I’ve seen, he’s close, if not ready, but he’ll have chance to show that.”