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May 9, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Jaso hitting leadoff, Gutierrez injury update, and other pre-game notes

Here is tonight’s lineup:
Mariners (14-18)
27 John Jaso (L) C
26 Brendan Ryan SS
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
63 Jesus Montero DH
15 Kyle Seager (L) 2B
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
16 Alex Liddi 3B
33 Casper Wells LF
9 Chone Figgins (S) CF
38 Jason Vargas LHP
Detroit Tigers (15-14)
14 Austin Jackson CF
26 Brenna Boesch (L) RF
24 Miguel Cabrera 3B
28 Prince Fielder (L) 1B
21 Delmon Young DH
25 Ryan Raburn LF
27 Jhonny Peralta SS
9 Gerald Laird C
29 Danny Worth 2B
33 Drew Smyly LHP
Yes, that’s the catcher hitting leadoff — just the third time that’s happened in Mariner history. Bob Stinson, ol’ Scrap Iron, did so twice in 1978 (and went 2-for-7 with two walks and a home run), so it’s been 34 years of waiting for a reprise. But for Jaso, it’s not that big a deal. He’s hit leadoff 51 previous times, all with Tampa Bay, putting up a .262/.360/.393 line. Most of those (45 leadoff starts) came in 2010, when Jaso’s on-base percentage from the one hole was an excellent .380 for a playoff-bound Rays team.
“I don’t know if I’d say I like it,” Jaso said. “I like being in the lineup. The only difference with leadoff is that whenever you lead off a game, there’s never anyone on base. You need to gather as much information as possible. If you’re somewhere else in the lineup, there might be people on and situational things, and you’ve got to execute whatever pitch you can. It might be pitch one. It doesn’t really give you time to gather that information. That’s the difference. After that, it’s a just a big cluster.”

Of the propensity of Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to hit him first, Jaso said, “I think it had something to do with looking for someone to lead off. We had Iwamura the year before, but he was gone, so he was looking for someone to fill that spot. The on-base percentage I had helped make that choice for Joe.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of his decision to hit Jaso first: “He’s done it before, he’s comfortable. He’s an on-base guy. He’s swinging the bat well. We’re giving (Dustin) Ackley the day off.”
Ackley is not injured, and it’s not some kind of punishment for not putting the bunt down last night, as some have speculated.
“It’s 36 games in 37 days, and after the off day tomorrow we have 20 more,” Wedge said. “It’s still his first full year. I felt him and (Michael) Saunders needed a day.
Franklin Gutierrez, who has spent all season on the disabled list with a torn pectoral muscle, complicated by a case of plantar fasciitis in his heel, is in town getting his heel looked at by doctors after a flareup. The news doesn’t seem encouraging.
“He’s had some good days, and some bad days,” Wedge said. “It’s still the same thing, but it’s just not going away any time soon. It felt pretty good for a couple days, then it flared back up. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything else. It wasn’t anything else. We’re going to get him off his feet for three or for days, and go from there.”
The good news is that Gutierrez’s original injury, the torn pec, is doing well and he is swinging and throwing without discomfort.
Wedge said it is a “longshot” that Blake Beavan, with a bruised elbow after being hit by a Miguel Cabrera liner in Monday’s game, will make his scheduled start Sunday. But with a day off Thursday, Beavan could be pushed back a couple of days, with Kevin Millwood and Jason Vargas pitching Sunday and Monday on regular rest.
“I’m fairly optimistic he (Beavan) will make his next start, it’s just when it’s going to be,” Wedge said. “It’s not that important that it’s Sunday.”
Beavan won’t even try to pick up a baseball until Friday.
Asked whether Justin Smoak’s hamstring is bothering him, Wedge said, “It’s a maintenance issue. He’s just a big guy. He’s never going to be a burner. There’s no excuses there. We’re looking to get it done.”

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


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