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April 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Munenori Kawasaki back in for Mariners to face Yu Darvish as Jesus Montero comes up ill

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Jesus Montero came down with an upset stomach prior to the game and so we’ve had some lineup juggling with Dustin Ackley moving to DH and Munenori Kawasaki taking over at second base tonight. Kawasaki is the only member of the Mariners to have face Yu Darvish before, going 19-for-86 (.221) off him with one homer, 10 RBI, two walks and 19 strikeouts.
Hmm, that’s not too encouraging, is it?
Might be if it was 2010, when Kawasaki went 10-for-19 (.526) off Darvish. But last year, he was just 3-for-27, with three infield singles. Yikes!
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said having Kawasaki helps in the team’s advance meeting and to offer general conversation about Darvish. He added that the team has some reports and “a little bit of video” on Dasrvish from which to study him.
“So, you just do the best you can with what you have,” Wedge said.


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Veteran Japanese baseball writer Masa Niwa, who covers the Mariners for Sankei Sports, said the excitement level in his home country is high and fans there have anticipated this Darvish-Ichiro showdown since Darvish signed with the Rangers.
Niwa was there in 2007 when Ichiro squared off against Daisuke Matsuzaka at Fenway Park. He said this game will probably be bigger.
“Back then, Matsuzaka had already made his debut when he faced the Mariners,” Niwa said. “So, tonight, it’s not only Darvish against Ichiro, but it’s Darvish making his debut as well.”
There is an abundance of Japanese media at the game, though I’m told it’s not as many as were on-hand for the Matsuzaka-Ichiro clash in 2007. Part of that might be due to the struggling Japanese economy and media cutbacks since that game five years ago.
Also, this is a much bigger ballpark than Fenway and probably wouldn’t seem as crowded wth media even if there were equal amounts at both games.
Niwa said the influx of Japanese players in the majors has been good and bad for baseball in Japan.
“The fans are watching Major League Baseball more than ever because of all the players who came over here,” he said. “But they also are not watching Japanese baseball as much. It’s too bad but this is the best baseball being played over here. This is where a lot of Japanese players want to play.”
In other news, the Mariners will wait until at least mid-week before deciding whether one — or both — of Mike Carp and Franklin Gutierrez will be ready for minor league rehabilitation assignments. Wedge said both players are still working on getting their throwing arms back to being game-ready.
After that, he added, Gutierrez will need a longer rehabilitation stint because he hasn’t had a spring training and needs to get the requisite number of at-bats in. I suggested that spring training has about five weeks worth of games and asked Wedge whether Gutierrez would require that many.
He said no.
“It won’t be that long,” he said. “We’ll fast-forward it, speed it up. Without pushing the envelope for him physically. It will just be a judgement call on our part.”
The lineups:
MARINERS
LF Chone Figgins
DH Dustin Ackley
RF Ichiro
1B Justin Smoak
3B Kyle Seager
CF Michael Saunders
C Miguel Olivo
2B Munenori Kawasaki
SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Hector Noesi
RANGERS
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
CF Josh Hamilton
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Michael Young
RF Nelson Cruz
LF David Murphy
C Mike Napoli
1B Mitch Moreland
RHP Yu Darvish

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, Jesus Montero

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