Here’s a poll from seattletimes.com:
Who eventually will be the Mariners’ everyday catcher?
Here’s tonight’s lineup:
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
33 Casper Wells LF
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
63 Jesus Montero DH
30 Miguel Olivo C
55 Michael Saunders (L) CF
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
26 Brendan Ryan SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
Batting practice was enlivened by the presence of first-round draft pick Mike Zunino, who started off slowly, but by the end of his round (with Jesus Montero, Brendan Ryan and Mike Carp) bombed a few balls out of the park — one into the upper tank in left.
“He looked good,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, noting that he hadn’t hit in a couple of weeks and was using a wood bat. “The more he was in there, the more comfortable he was. There’s a lot to like there. Good for him for getting out here and signing. We’re so pleased to have him in the organization. He’s going through an exciting time in his life now.”
Wedge said he met briefly with Zunino and had a couple of points he wanted to convey.
“Just about things that are important to us in the organization, things that should be important to him in regards to the game of baseball. Some advice about playing professional baseball for the first time. I didn’t want to give him too much, but give him a little bit of direction. The important thing he needs to understand is this is an organization that cares about the right things. We’re on our way to doing things we feel strongly he’s going to want to be a big part of.”
Speaking of Carp, he hit the ball well in batting practice and met afterward with Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik. Wedge said Carp ready to begin a rehab assignemnt “as soon as the next couple of days.”
The interesting development is that Carp, who sprained his shoulder in the season-opening game in Japan and was out until early May, only to aggravate the injury and return to the DL on June 12, will play just first base this time. No outfield work, which the team believes will help his recovery.
“We feel like we’re pushing a bad play if we start to lengthen that thing out again in the outfield this year,” Wedge said. “Obviously, it’s a completely different rehab when you’re talking about throwing in the outfield than throwing at first base. Hopefully, we can have the best of both worlds. To get out there and throw in the outfield puts a lot more strain on your arm. I want to him to be healthy, I want to see him hit, get him back here and evaluate him.
“Right now, we’re just going to focus on first base with him. We tried to do it the first time in the outfield and it didn’t work. It affected his swing. Nothing has really changed, other than him getting stronger. But he was stronger the first time coming back, too but he wore himself down. To get him back and be able to keep him back, I think we’re going to start out at first base, at least for awhile and go from there.”
I believe Carp’s health is the primary motivation, but it does give the Mariners another first-base option if Justin Smoak continues to struggle.
Reliever Stephen Pryor, out since June 13 with a strained left groin, could be joining Carp on rehab soon. He will go on the road with the team to Oakland Friday, but “well look to get him out when we’re in Oakland, or just after that.”
Meanwhile, Franklin Gutierrez is unlikely to return before the All-Star break, Wedge said. Gutierrez is on the seven-day DL with a concussion. He is eligible to come off Friday, but Wedge said, “He’s still a little bit off. I’d say it’s a stretch to say he’d be back before the All-Star break. He’s feeling better, just not where he needs to be just yet.”
Gutierrez was to be evaluated by doctors on Tuesday.
Michael Saunders is feeling better and back in the lineup after missing four games with a bad case of flu.