Eric Wedge had his media accessibility session here this afternoon and got a few questions thrown his way about Jack Cust and Milton Bradley. The Mariners won’t officially announce the Cust signing, for $2.5 million plus incentives, until at least Friday after he takes a physical in Seattle.
So, Wedge is somewhat limited in what he can say about Cust.
But as you may have seen earlier, I spoke to Cust and he confirmed the signing and dollar amount and said he figures he’ll be playing against both lefty and righty pitchers as a designated hitter.
“From what it sounds like, I’m going to be in there both ways (versus lefties and righties) and that’s the way I like it,” he said. “I’ve always been able to hit lefties pretty well.”
Well, up until the past two seasons, anyway. But if Cust is indeed going to face lefties as well as righties, what becomes of Bradley? It was assumed he would be the right-handed DH when southpaws were on the mound. Or, perhaps the right-handed bat playing left field when Michael Saunders was in that spot.
But when I asked Wedge today what he thought about specific platoon situations, especially with young players involved, it didn’t sound like a Saunders-Bradley platoon was imminent.
“I think you have to be careful with young players, especialy younger players that you’re trying to find out about,” Wedge said. “If you pigeon-hole them and platoon them, you really are going to struggle to find out about them. So, you’ve got to recognize and trust your evaluations and what your eyes are seeing and what you’ve seen in the past from them performance-wise and make those decisions.
“I think there is a place for it,” he added. “I think it’s rare that something like that stands the test of time, but I think there is a place for it.”
OK, so it would appear that a strict platoon for Saunders and Bradley is not about to be implemented.
How about the DH spot? I told Wedge that I’d spoken to Cust and he’d confirmed the pending deal and talked about facing both righties and lefties. Here’s how Wedge replied when I asked him whether he saw things that way and where Bradley fits.
“Milton’s going to be a guy who’s obviously going to do some DHing for us, but also bounce in the outfield,” he said. “Milton can play left field, right field. Obviously, being a switch-hitter, he gives us great options there from both sides of the plate. The health issues for milton are the biggest question. So, we’re going to do the best we can to be as productive as we can offensively.”
On the subject of Cust, Wedge said: “I’ve seen Jack play for a long time from the other side of the diamond. He’s a tremendous talent and we’ll just have to see how it all plays out. I mean, nothing’s done yet. Obviously, we like Jack. I’ve liked him personally as a manager for another ballclub. When we talk about what we’re trying to do offensively, you’re going to hear me talking about quality at-bats. Good at-bats. Strong at-bats. Making good outs. Making it tough on that pitcher. I think he does a lot of that. It takes time to establish that discipline. It takes time to understand what it means to put up a good at-bat. To stick your nose in there with two strikes. And to do some of these things.
“If we can get a few other people to help us do that, and our young people can watch that, then it’s going to help us.”
Wrapping up some other information from the session:
— Chone Figgins will not be moving over to third base just yet. Wedge said the team has to finish its winter shopping first, which is code for “We’re busting our humps trying to find a second baseman. Once we do, Figgins is back at the hot corner.”
Expect that to happen by spring training.
— Ichiro will be staying in the leadoff spot. Wedge says the team has too many other things it’s trying to fix and isn’t about to open a whole new can of worms by experimenting with Ichiro in the order.
From what I’m hearing, this could be it for the Mariners at the winter meetings. They end after tomorrow morning’s Rule 5 draft. A source just told me the team is moving slowly on the catcher situation, so it’s doubtful we’ll hear much more about that before everyone leaves Florida.