Lots of talk this afternoon about the Mariners going with Adam Kennedy as their DH and clean-up hitter. As I told you earlier, Jack Cust isn’t hurt, and after he’d finished talking to me, he and manager Eric Wedge went off by themselves for a discussion.
Wedge said he wants Cust to have the night off.
“Jack and I had a nice talk,” Wedge said. “I’m just letting him watch the game today. Going to try to help get him going a bit. He’s a guy that’s putting a little heat on himself. I think he’s handled everything great. But with a lefthander going today, this gives him a chance to watch a big league baseball game, relax, be ready late and get him right back in there tomorrow.
“I just think that everybody is in their own situation, where they’re at. Everybody’s their own story and I just want to try to give him a little help to get him going.”
When it comes to replacing the clean-up hitter, though, the pickings are slim. I mentioned Adam Kennedy’s one prior start as a No. 4 hitter ahead of tonight and Wedge just laughed.
“I figured that would be one of the questions today,” Wedge said. “You know what? I don’t think we have a true four-hole hitter right now. I think what you want to do ideally is put someone in there who’s a veteran, and also is swinging the bat well and that’s what Adam is doing.”
Kennedy just went 5-for-15 on the recent homestand, including 2-for-4 yesterday. He’s 2-for-3 lifetime with a triple off Royals left-hander Bruce Chen, who starts tonight.
Wedge added again that: “We don’t have your prototypical lineup per se right now. What we’re trying to do is get the guys who are swinging the bat well and that’s what we’re doing with Adam. He’s got a couple of knocks against this guy, so we’ll see.”
I asked whether he’d consider moving Justin Smoak up from the No. 5 spot and he said no. He wants to leave Smoak where he’s been performing well and not mess with a good thing. Ditto for Milton Bradley at No. 3. Wedge isn’t about to push his luck.
Kennedy’s only other game at clean-up came on the final day of the 2006 season when his Angels were beaten 11-10 by the division champion Oakland A’s (who had Milton Bradley in the No. 3 spot that day). Kennedy went 1-for-3 with two walks. The lineup around him wasn’t exactly a murderers’ row, which explains his fourth slotting. The Angels trotted out Maicer Izturis, Reggie Willits, (a fossilized) Tim Salmon, Kennedy, Robb Quinlan, Kendry Morales (before he was good), Curtis Pride and Jeff Mathis. Yikes! Yeah, the Angels had some injuries. They’d also scored only 766 runs that season, which, though it towers over Seattle’s total last year, is still pretty pedestrian for a team that almost made the playoffs
So, that’s the Angels’ excuse. The M’s? Well, we’ve got all year to kick that one around.
In other news, the Mariners have altered the minor league rehabilitation schedule for Franklin Gutierrez. Instead of going to Class AAA Tacoma, he’s going to spend the weekend with the Class A High Desert affiliate. There’s rain scheduled for the Pacific Northwest this region while High Desert weather is expected to be clear.
After that, Gutierrez will be re-evaluated and likely sent to AAA to continue the rehab assignment.
By the way, just for kicks, in light of our discussion on the blog today about who will stay and who will go when Gutierrez and David Aardsma return, I asked Wedge whether he’d consider going to a six-man bullpen.
“I’ve always loved the thought of, instead of carrying 12 pitchers, potentially carrying 11 pitchers,” Wedge said. (Pitching coach) Carl (Willis) and I have talked about it. But right now, I haven’t put a great deal of thought into it, to be honest with you. I wouldn’t be against it, but I’m not saying that’s what we’re going to do. I think it just depends on where we are. A week, 10 days, it’s like an eternity. Who knows what can happen between now and then with regard to health or performance. I think we’ll be on the day-to-day mode here for a while.”