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February 12, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says Jason Vargas will likely start second game in Japan

Mariners manager Eric Wedge stood and watched his pitchers and catchers go through their paces today. But he let pitching coach Carl Willis do most of the talking, including during an on-field scrum after the morning stretch.
Willis read out a list of which players would be heading to certain fields and at one point announced: “If you throw left-handed, you’re going to throw on Field 4. Alright? If you don’t know if you’re left-handed or not, come and see me.”
Fortunately, none of the players lingered.
After the workout was done, Wedge met with the media and said he did speak briefly to the team before and after they took the field.
“I didn’t talk a whole lot today, it was more Carl,” Wedge said. “Just to reiterate some of things that are important to me. And reiterate what we’re about as an organization and the path that we’re on. But I didn’t get too into it.
“Ultimately it’s no different than what I’ve told you (media) guys. What we established from a foundation standpoint last year is real. It’s still here. Nobody’s taking that away from us. And nobody will. But now, we’ve got to try and build on that.”
The one bit of news Wedge did let drop is that he’s leaning heavily towards Jason Vargas starting the second game in Japan against the Oakland Athletics.
“We’re probably looking at Vargas right now in regards to the first couple of games,” Wedge said.

Japanese pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma had told media members a couple of weeks ago that Wedge had already informed him he would not be starting the games in Japan. That led to widespread assumption that Vargas would be the one pitching the second game after Felix Hernandez works the opener.
So, the comments by Wedge today merely reaffirmed what we already knew. The move makes sense. Why put that kind of pressure on a guy who would already be making his big league debut in that situation? Iwakuma would have the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders in addition. Now, he won’t have to.
Wedge looked on during the workouts as a lineup of six catchers simultaneously caught as many pitchers in multiple bullpen sessions. Nobody threw anything too hard or too difficult.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and members of his front office team looked on as well.
Wedge noted that his evaluations these next few weeks will extend far beyond Hernandez and Vargas opening the Japan series.
“We’re going to have to get multiple starters ready for the regular season, not just those two guys,” Wedge said. “We’ve got a lot of starting pitchers here in camp, both young and with a little more experience. But we’ll see how it plays out as we work it through.”

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma


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