Good afternoon everyone. I’m pinch-hitting on the Mariners beat today as the team returns home and kicks off a three-game series with the Oakland A’s.
Hisashi Iwakuma, who has been sensational with a 3-1 record and 1.61 ERA, will be on the mound for Seattle, which could actually jump up into second place in the AL West with a sweep this weekend. The M’s are 16-19 and the A’s are 18-18 behind division-leading Texas.
Lot of potential lefties in the Seattle lineup against Oakland’s starter, rightie Dan Straily (1-0, 5.94).
I’ll be back with a game thread closer to first pitch.
After the jump are some pregame thoughts from manager Eric Wedge:
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(On Ibanez being back in the lineup…) “I want to give him an opportunity. He hasn’t played a great deal lately. He played quite a bit earlier on, but I want to give him an opportunity to get going. He had a big pinch-hit for us the other night. I think he had one start on the road, but trying to get him back in there after an off day, and hopefully he’ll do something that helps us win the game.”
(On where Gutierrez is at this point…) “He’s feeling pretty good, but he’s going to probably take some BP today, but we’re not at the point where we’re going to run him just yet. He’s going to take some time to get back. But he’s progressing.”
(He said he’s running some…) “A little bit. We just haven’t done anything 100 percent, nothing on the bases, but he’s been swinging the bat and he’ll take some BP today.”
(On pushing Felix and Iwakuma up a day in rotation going into New York…) “It’s a combination of everything. … I think the dynamic has worked well with those guys back to back, so if we have an opportunity to keep it the same, we’ll do it. … We just felt that works best for everybody. Wherever we do these things we take all five guys into consideration.”
(On the benefit of off days in giving young guys some time off…) “We want to manage his inning — I’m talking about Maurer — but it also allows you to get some of your starters an extra day or two. When they’re pitching every fifth day for almost the entire month of April, an extra day goes a long way.”
(On if Maurer has worked on anything…) “He’s throwing a couple of sides. Again, it’s all about him just being consistent and throwing his fastball where he wants to and using all his pitches. He’s a young man, so give him a little extra time — it’s a good thing.”
(On some umpiring controversies in the past few days…) “I’m not going to comment on that. They’ve got a tough job, so I’ll leave it at that.”
(On the use of replay…) “I think replay is healthy for the game, as long as they keep it within reason. I think they’ve done a good job of that.”
(On Jeff Datz being back and if he’s ready to return to third-base coach duties…) “No. He might sit in the dugout depending on how he feels. It’s good to see him out there, but he’s not able to go out there.”