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August 15, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Mariners lineup, pre-game notes for Wednesday’s matinee

Mariners (54-64)
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
55 Michael Saunders (L) CF
63 Jesus Montero DH
27 John Jaso (L) C
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
12 Trayvon Robinson (S) LF
10 Eric Thames (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
Rays (63-53)
5 Sam Fuld (L) LF
2 B.J. Upton CF
20 Matt Joyce (L) RF
3 Evan Longoria DH
18 Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
23 Carlos Pena (L) 1B
28 Jose Lobaton (S) C
9 Elliot Johnson (S) SS
1 Sean Rodriguez 3B
58 Jeremy Hellickson RHP
Great stat from the Mariners on rookie reliever Stephen Pryor: Not only has he started his major-league career by holding opponents hitless in 18 plate appearances with runners on base (0-for-16, two BB) and 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, but if you add in his 16 games with Triple-A Tacoma, opponents are 0-for-50 with runners on base (0-for-34 with Tacoma) and 0-for-24 with RISP.
Manager Eric Wedge has been using him increasingly in higher leverage situations, including in the ninth inning of a one-run game last night, when Pryor survived a leadoff double.
“He’s been really good,” Wedge said. “I like his poise on the mound. I like the way he competes. I thought last night was big for him as he continues to move forward. The guy hits that leadoff double, we leave him out there, and he has to make big pitches in a tough situation. It was so important for us to keep it to one run – so important. I wanted to give him every opportunity. Notice, I didn’t get anybody up. I wanted him to do it, and that’s what he did.”

The Mariners bullpen likely will be getting more help soon with the imminent return of lefty Charlie Furbush, who worked two scoreless innings with Tacoma last night in his latest rehab appearance.
“It’s getting closer,” Wedge said of Furbush’s return. “There’s nothing I can say beyond that. He went two innings and was so efficient we had him throw another 15 pitches in the bullpen to get him over 30. He felt good, and looked good.”
Wedge likes the progress of Dustin Ackley, who had three hits last night.
“He’s been competing better at home plate, doing a better job of covering that pitch away and driving it the other way,” Wedge said. “His BP has been much more consistent. I think he’s fouled off some pitches that he was taking with two strikes and getting punched out on. So working to get another pitch, protecting the plate better. I don’t think he’s there yet, but he’s more consistently putting himself into a better position to hit.”
Justin Smoak also made a good impression in his first game back from Triple-A, and Wedge is hoping the adjustments he made with Tacoma hitting coach Jeff Pentland will take hold.
“One of benefits when you send someone to Triple-A, you get different eyes on them and they might say something that might trigger something differently,” he said. “You’re saying the same thing, but you may be saying it a different way or you do see something maybe we don’t see. I think that’s healthy.
“You don’t have the pressure on you down there. He’s probably hearing things easier. There’s not that great sense of urgency. It’s tough to compete and get better at the same time up here. We want everyone to do that. It’s easier to get better down there. You don’t have all the rigors that go along with being a big-league ballplayer. In all, our guys have done a pretty good job of that. It may not show in the end stat line, but it will in time.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero


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