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June 10, 2012 at 12:08 PM

Pre-game notes: Wedge looking to get League back in closer job

Manager Eric Wedge says he and pitching coach Carl Willis have been very encouraged by the recent work of demoted closer Brandon League, capped by his showing in Friday’s combined no-hitter. And Wedge said the day is not too far off when League will re-assume his closing job.
“We feel the last time out was everything we were looking for,” Wedge said. “That was it. That was everything, from the way he carried himself to the stuff to the competition to the situation. And we felt, really, the three previous times he threw the ball was pretty good, too. Pretty consistent. We feel he’s right there.
“Tom (Wilhelmsen) has done a nice job for us late in the ballgame. We’ve had a lot of other guys in the bullpen do a nice job, too. We’ll stay where we are today. At some point in time, sooner or later, we’ll look to get Leaguer another shot at closing.
“I’m not going to do that on a whim. I’m going to have a conversation with him first. I’m not going to surprise anybody. We haven’t had that conversation yet.”


Asked if there was a certain freedom in not having a traditional closer, Wedge shot down that notion in a hurry.
“No, there’s no freedom in it,” he said. “It’s a pain in the ass. Because everyone else is outside their role. When you don’t have that, everyone else loses their role as well. You have a bunch of people down there who aren’t sure if and when they’re going to pitch. The bullpen starts with the closer. To have everyone else in their optimal role, you have to have that role established. Otherwise, everyone slides up. Your setup man could potentially close that night, depending on the situation. Guys that are early to mid-game guys end up being your setup guys. So, really, from the point in time the starter might get into trouble or gets deep in the ballgame, everyone has to be on point. For everyone to be on point, regardless of the situation, it gets pretty exhausting mentally for you.”
On other matters, Wedge said Franklin Gutierrez’s rehab with Tacoma is going well, and he will accompany the Rainiers on their upcoming road trip.
“He’s playing outfield, doing really well running,” Wedge said. “We’ve got about a week left to play with of rehab time. Barring something happening, we still plan to send him out on the road and let him have a few more games and a few more at-bats.”
Wedge still hopes Kevin Millwood, who was to play catch on Sunday, will be able to make his next scheduled start.
“That’s the working plan. We have some leeway with the off day. We could push him back a couple of days.”

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