The question of whether the Mariners should move the fences in at Safeco Field is again a hot topic, and Eric Wedge was asked about it before the game. Here’s his diplomatic answer:
“Like I’ve always said, Jack (Zduriencik) and I talk every day. Jack talks to the powers that be on a daily basis. When the season’s all said and done, we’re going to evaluate everything. I mean, everything. Both on and off the field, both in regard to the field or anything else regarding that. I’ll leave it at that. The longer I’m here – nothing’s going to happen this season, that’s obvious – but it does allow me to give it another four months to take a peek at it, too. I have my thoughts, of which I will not let you in on. Safe to say we will evaluate everything when the season’s done.”
I asked him if he thinks it gets in the players’ heads when they hit a drive they’re sure is out, only to have it die on the warning track. We’ve seen a few of those lately — and consistently over the years, for that matter.
“What we don’t want it to be is a crutch. There’s no excuses here. These players are young enough, and I think they’re tough enough, they can handle anything that comes their way. Having said that, they’re human. Whether it be a ball you hit right on the screws you line out to the third baseman, or one you hit you feel it’s gone and they grab it, you’re going to have human moments. I accept that.”
Asked if he coaches more to the field in Seattle than in his previous managerial stint: “I have not yet, because until we develop these players into what they’re ultimately going to be, and you know what you have, that’s when you take that step. I feel like we have players here now that are going to do damage at this level offensively. Not just hit for average or doubles or drive runs in. I feel we have guys that are going to be capable of hitting the ball out of the ballpark. Damage to me is doubles, triples and home runs, obviously. We don’t need guys going up and banging 40, though we’ll take it. But guys that can go up there and hit enough to where they’re a threat and drive runs in, I feel we have a lot of guys that are going to do that. ”
On a couple of other topics, Wedge noted that John Jaso is still a little banged up from a foul ball he took off his shoulder on Monday. Thus, Jesus Montero catches a day game after a night game, and is also back with Kevin Millwood. The two had communications issues the last time they worked together.
Jaso is available “as needed,” Wedge said, adding with a smile, “He’s not going to have a choice.”
Munenori Kawasaki is the emergency third catcher until MIguel Olivo returns (and he’s catching for Tacoma today in Iowa). Wedge told an amusing story from Monday’s game in which both Jaso and Montero were in (Jaso cathcing and Montero as the DH), and someone was needed to warm up a pitcher in the bullpen. Wedge told bench coach Robby Thompson to have Montero’s gear ready when he came up with two outs, so that if he made the third out, he could hustle to put his gear on and run to the bullpen.
“Robby said, ‘Look down there,’ ” Wedge said. “I look down, and Muni’s in full gear, head to toe. With mask. I said, ‘Don’t worry about Jesus, I’ll send Muni down there.’ That’s what we did. I mean, head to toe, ready to rock and roll. I couldn’t disappoint the guy. He did a full out sprint to the bullpen, and there you go.”
Wedge added, “He’s off the charts, man, with his attitude. His attitude, approach and engery every day — he’s a treat to have.”
Franklin Gutierrez (pictured above) again worked out, throwing and running while the trainers watched. All seemed to go well, but Wedge, asked if he was pleased, said, “I’ll be pleased when he’s back with us.” The plan is for Gutierrez, battling plantar fasciitis, to work with the Mariners throughout the week, return to Arizona on Sunday and play about five or six games in extended spring training, then begin a rehab assignment if all goes well.