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March 23, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Looking like a Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez leadoff combo for Mariners to start season

Kelly Shoppach tries to keep rally alive in ninth, but Mariners lose 10-5 to the Cleveland Indians.

Kelly Shoppach tries to keep rally alive in ninth, but Mariners lose 10-5 to the Cleveland Indians.

We’ll get to today’s Blake Beavan debacle in a minute, but manager Eric Wedge offered up some interesting news post-game in which he declared he’s preparing to start the year with some type of Michael Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez combination out of the leadoff spot.

Saunders led off today and went 2-for-5 in a 10-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

“We’ve been mixing more with Saunders and Gutierrez than anybody else,” Wedge said. “I like them both up there. We haven’t settled into anything, but those are the guys we’re looking at right now. Obviously, with the middle of our lineup being a little bit more solidified, that makes a big difference for us.”

Wedge said he’s thought about going with Saunders as the leadoff guy against right-handed pitchers and having Gutierrez do it versus left-handers. He’s also considering having one guy lead off more consistently against both-handed pitchers, but isn’t sure yet.

“Regardless, I like them both up there, so we’ll be able to make it work,” he said. “We might have to play around with it a little bit, see what the best thing is for our team. But we’ll have some time to do that.”

Justin Smoak had ninth inning single and went  3-for-5 with two doubles. But he heads off field after loss.

Justin Smoak had ninth inning single and went 3-for-5 with two doubles. But he heads off field after loss.

Back to the Beavan outing, there wasn’t much he or Wedge could say about it. When you give up nine runs — eight earned — on 16 hits over 5 1/3 innings, something wasn’t working right. Beavan said he kept leaving pitches up.

“It was just one of those days,’’ Beavan said. “But at the same time I was just having trouble getting the ball down today. Whether it was a good or bad pitch, when I got ahead I just couldn’t put them away, which is usually not a problem.’’

Beavan kept rushing at times and that threw his mechnics off. Without being able to consistently repeat his mechanics in proper fashion, all those improvements he tried to make over last season kind of become moot. He needs to properly and consistently repeat his delivery or he won’t fool hitters and won’t locate.

Wedge cautioned that one start won’t torpedo Beavan’s candidacy for the rotation.

“You evaluate everything, the good days and the not-so-good days,’’ Wedge said. “You figure out why, you have the conversations you need to have…but we assess everything really in its entirety. Talk about the entire spring, their path to get here and where they are right now.’’

One thing Wedge twice noted when asked about Beavan? His pitch count. “We got him up to 100 pitches, which we needed to do.’’

Indeed, if you’re planning to open the season with a guy, you want him throwing that many pitches before camp ends. Beavan has done that for now. He’ll get another chance to pitch later this week.

On the Jesus Montero front, he was in the clubhouse talking with teammates but he wasn’t smiling or anything and the Mariners don’t want him giving interviews for at least 24 hours until they are certain he has no concussion symptoms. Wedge told me it could be several days before the welt on Montero’s head subsides enough to get him back in a game.

It will be interesting to see what this does to the bullpen candidacy of Kameron Loe. The non-roster veteran has an opt-out clause in his deal that he can trigger on Monday. But like what happened

with Jon Garland, it remains to be seen if the Mariners will be ready to give up a roster spot that early.

Until Montero gets back on a field, the Mariners won’t know whether he’ll be OK to start the season. He doesn’t have a concussion as far as anyone knows, but could still need time to play again. If he can’t go, the team would need to add a non-roster catcher to the team. I’m not saying there’s a good chance that’ll happen. As of right now, chances are Montero will be fine. But until the team is certain about it, offering a roster spot to Loe on Monday might not work.

So, worth keeping an eye on.

Danny Farquhar is another non-roster right-hander still in camp and he pitched a scoreless seventh inning today and has looked good in camp. Unlike Loe, he doesn’t have an out-clause that could force any early decisions. So, if Loe opts out and the team needs another right-hander, they could wait until the end of camp and give a roster spot to Farquhar.

Or, they could just decide to use Erasmo Ramirez as a right-hander out of the bullpen to start the year and keep the extra roster spot. There are a few ways they can go on this, but Montero’s injury definitely threw a complication into that mix.

0 Comments | More in Cactus League | Topics: franklin gutierrez; michael saunders; blake beavan; jesus montero

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