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June 14, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Wedge: Blanco brings more to table than Shoppach

The Mariners likely plan on keeping catcher Mike Zunino (above) in the majors long-term after today's signing of backup catcher and veteran mentor Henry Blanco.

The Mariners likely plan on keeping catcher Mike Zunino (above) in the majors long-term after today’s signing of backup catcher and veteran mentor Henry Blanco.

Some quick news: Tom Wilhelmsen will not be closing for at least his next two or three outings. The Mariners want to see Wilhelmsen in some non-save situations to work on better locating his pitches. They will mix-and-match save opportunities for now, with no specific pitcher deisgnated for that.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the team opted to sign Henry Blanco and designate for assignment catcher Kelly Shoppach today because one guy brought more to the table in “all areas” than the other.

Wedge said the team pursued Blanco last winter before he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. So, when Blanco became available, the team jumped at the chance.

“Just so much more experience,” Wedge said of going with Blanco over Shoppach. “The leadership skills. The mentor skills. Just the experience in that role and where he’s at in his life on and off the field.”

What this likely means is that Mike Zunino is going to be here longer term than just a week or two. You don’t go swapping out catchers — especially one like Shoppach you’ve guaranteed $1.5 million to — for just a 10-day experiment.

“We felt that for somebody to work alongside Zunino, there probably was nobody better at that position,” Wedge said.

Strike up the band! Michael Morse is back in the field once again, playing first base tonight.

Strike up the band! Michael Morse is back in the field once again, playing first base tonight.

Right now, Zunino will get the majority of playing time.

“We’re going to work off of him but you’ve got to give him some time,” Wedge said. “You take advantage of opportunities when you get them. Whether it be acquiring a player like Blanco or giving Zunino a chance to play some. We’ll just go back and forth with those guys, Mike will get the bulk of the playing time. But we can play it as slow as we need to play it.”

So, we’ll see what happens.

Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales are both back in the lineup today, with Morse starting at first base. Wedge said the two of them still aren’t 100 percent health-wise, but are good enough right now.

Comments | More in catchers | Topics: kelly shoppach; henry blanco; tom wilhelmsen; mike zunino


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