August 13, 2013 at 3:05 PM
Mariners have infield coach up from minors
There’s a new coach in the ranks tonight as former big leaguer Chris Woodward, a roving minor league infield instructor with the Mariners, has joined the squad for this series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Woodward has a home not far from here in Safety Harbor, Fla., where his family spends much of its time.
When the team heard Woodward would be stopping by his home between roving assignments, they figured now was a good time for him to be here.
“It will be good to see some of the guys I was working with down there,” Woodward said.
Two of those guys — shortstop Brad Miller and infielder Nick Franklin — have had some recent struggles. Now seems like a good time for a fresh set of eyes to get a look at the pair and help with any suggestions.
Mariners manager Robby Thompson said there’s nothing specific Woodward will be working on with anyone.
“It will give him a chance to see these guys he’s been working with down below and see them at the big league level,” he said.
Speaking of Miller and Franklin, both have their families over here from the Orlando area to watch them tonight. I can see Franklin down on the field talking near the stands with his father, Steve, as I type this.
Franklin told me he has no idea how many family members are here to watch him, or who exactly is coming. He just knows it’s a lot.
“I’m staying away from all that,” he said with a chuckle.
One player the Mariners will be taking a closer look at as the season winds down is Dustin Ackley, who will start in center field again tonight. That means Michael Saunders is taking a seat.
The Mariners are going to have a hard time finding playing time for all of their outfielders, especially if Franklin Gutierrez ever returns off the disabled list. In fact, all these injury rehabilitation assignments Gutierrez keeps going on are allowing the team to avoid making a roster decision about whom to jettison in their crowded outfield to clear a roster spot.
If Gutierrez doesn’t return in another 2 1/2 weeks, the Mariners will be off the hook on that front, since rosters can expand in September.
As for Ackley, Thompson said the team needs to get a close look to figure out whether he’s a future option in center.
“We’ve got to see, really, what we have out there with Ackley in center field,” Thompson said. “We kind of know already, what we have with Saunders in center field and the corners. There’s a chance we’ll have Guti coming back…so we’re just trying to get Ack in there.”
By the way, Alex Cobb will be starting for the Rays in Thursday’s finale.