We’ve spoken about this issue during the past week or so — who will pinch-hit late for the Mariners against a tough left-hander?
Well, it took us only two games to find out what the team’s plan was with a limited bench. Adam Moore was due up last night in the ninth with one on and one out and the game tied. Mariners manager Eric Wedge looked down his bench for a right handed bat who could face Oakland Athletics southpaw closer Brian Fuentes and came up with…no, not Luis Rodriguez. Not Ryan Langerhans.
Would you believe, Miguel Olivo?
That’s right. And Olivo delivered with a pinch-hit single that continued what became a three-run rally for Seattle. In that situation, Olivo was indeed the strongest bat the M’s could hope to go with. In fact, Olivo did much more, scrambling around the bases on a pair of legs that, not too long ago, were sidelined for three weeks by a groin injury.
But that’s the problem. And that’s why the M’s held their breath.
Had Olivo tweaked his groin again, forcing him to leave the game, the M’s had no other catcher to work the ninth inning. So, who would have been out there trying to get a hold of Brandon League’s sinker and splitter?
“I threw it out there the other day and Adam Kennedy jumped up and said ‘I’ll do it.’ So, I said ‘You got it!’,” Wedge said when I asked him the question this morning. “You’re always a bit uncomfortable when you get down to your last catcher, unless you have someone like a (Chris) Gimenez type that we had in spring training, who can play all over the place.”
But the M’s don’t have Gimenez. They cut him last week. Also, Kennedy has no experience catching in the professional ranks. Wedge acknowledged that there was some risk involved in going with Olivo.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to try to win the ballgame,” he said. “That’s what you’re here to do, so you take that risk.”
And this time, it worked. But what happens if, the next time, the M’s find themselves needing Kennedy to catch League in the ninth with a game on the line?
“if it happens, you hold your breath and I sit here and wear it from you (media) guys for a while, then move on,” Wedge said with a laugh.
Hey, we told you last week, if nothing else, this season should be more interesting than last. And with the bench designed the way it is, this probably won’t be the last time some breath is being held.
The Texas Rangers have flip-flopped their rotation for this week’s series. Instead of left-hander Derek Holland tomorrow, the M’s will see right-hander Alexi Ogando — with Holland going Tuesday in Ogando’s original spot.
No reason was given.
Yes, it does impact the way the M’s had set their lineups, but, that’s baseball.