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September 23, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Mariners open final homestand of the year with Brandon Maurer on the mound

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UPDATE 5:46 p.m. — Wedge quotes added after the jump…

Good afternoon everyone. I’m over here from Sounders duty for another pinch-hit assignment.

The Mariners open their final homestand of the year today against the Kansas City Royals after going 3-7 on the latest road-trip. Brandon Maurer (4-8, 6.95 ERA) will be on the mound for Seattle facing fellow right-hander Yordano Ventura (0-0, 1.59).

The Royals are in town for three games and then the division-champion Oakland A’s visit for the final three games of the season after an off day Thursday.

I’ll update this post with any pregame notes from manager Eric Wedge. I’ll also get a game thread going closer to first pitch.

*     *     *

(On getting Brad Miller back…) “Yeah, back in there. He wanted to play yesterday, and we probably could’ve, but wanted to give (the hamstring) an extra day. I think it’s always good when you can do that. But getting him back in there today, it’s a good thing for him and for us. I threw him right back up top. … We’ll take it day by day seeing how he’s feeling.”

(What did he pick up while out of the lineup?) “I think it’s always healthy to be able to watch a big-league game, and he’s a student of the game himself anyway. He’s not just someone who sits by and doesn’t pay attention. He’s going to watch and learn, and it gives us a chance to talk a little bit from time to time. I think the one thing that we’ve had happen up here is these guys have been able to learn from each other — talking about the younger players. When something happens with a young player, whether it be situational or maybe a mistake he made at home plate or in the field, wherever it may be, you can talk to three or four other ones about it. So hopefully they don’t have to go through that to learn from it, they can learn it from somebody else. And every night something like that happens, most of which some people don’t even see, but little things that you can learn from.”

(Did Joe Saunders make his last start in Anaheim?) “Yeah, as of right now that’s what we’re looking at. With (Iwakuma having) one more start and of course Felix, as well, and with the way we’re going to work the pitching over the weekend… Carl and I talked to Joe about that, but it’s always subject to change.”

(What do you want guys like Seager, Smoak, Ackley, Saunders to take into next year…) “I think Seager has kind of a little bit different light with the consistency and the success he’s had the last couple of years. I would set him aside, but I think when you look at a Smoak, an Ackley and a Saunders, I think you look at three guys who have really figured some things out about themselves in the second half. You look up again with Smoak, and he’s really struggled from the right side, as we know. In my heart of hearts, I really feel he’s a lot better than that. And really year every year prior to this, if you looked at him and talked to him, you’d feel the same way. He’s worked so hard on his left-handed stroke, it’s like double duty, and he’s taking some time with his right-handed stroke, which is why I think that’s the next thing that’ll have to happen this winter. But he’s hit 18 home runs. And you look at Ackley, what he’s done in the second half, and with Saunders here, it’s been a week and a half. Look a Carter Capps, look at his last three or four outings. What he’s feeling in his last three or four outings, he’s never felt before. Those are things you grab hold of. You talk about when someone gets it, he can hold onto it for a while, so I think we have a lot of guys who are working to get it. I think what they can take from it is they got a little bit more experience than some of these other guys, even though it’s only three years. They’ve had a lot of failures, they’ve had a lot of success, and everything in between, but now with everything under their belt, they’re going out and competing knowing there’s a book on them. Making some adjustments and doing some things, that’s about as real as it gets, so I think that’s what they can draw from that.”

(Should they look at themselves as young guys next year…) “I don’t know. That’s just a label. I don’t think you look at it like that anymore. I don’t think you look at yourself as a young guy. I don’t think you have to put a label on it. You look at somebody when they come in and its time to put all this into action and show some consistency. Put a season together. A season.”

(You’ve been compared to Kansas City. Do you see some similarities?) “I think we’ve got a lot of players that are going to be solid big-league players. Hell, I remember one time in Cleveland, I started 10 rookies, man. That’s hard to do. I didn’t know I did it until everybody made a big deal after the game, and we’re capable of doing something like that here, if it wasn’t out of respect for Raul and Morales and whatnot. You talk about all of our kids, not rookies necessarily, but young kids, you talk about these guys, and again, everybody is at a certain part of their career, albeit all very early in their careers. Everybody draws their own story. If you look at their path over (with the Royals), there are guys over there that they really hang their hat on and had a bad year and people get off them a little bit. Then they have a good year and people get back on them. That’s just the nature of the beast. I can’t afford to do that. That’s not how I operate, you guys know that’s not how I operate. You have to stick with them through thick and thin if you believe in their talent and believe in their ability and believe in their character and the way they compete. I have a lot of guys here that I believe in. That’s as simple as I can say it. I’ve got a lot of people here that I really believe in, even if they’re not having the success they need to have right now. I believe they’re going to have success sooner than later and they’re going to be a part of this.”

(Has Almonte done enough to prove himself?) “It’s too quick. You just can’t prove yourself that quick, but he’s shown himself well. … In baseball, it’s not about weeks or a month. It’s about months or years.”

(But has he taken advantage of the opportunity?) “He has taken advantage of the opportunity. Yes, he has. He’s shown himself very well. He’s shown different parts of his game, which are intriguing. He’s got some power. I think his right-handed swing has gotten a little bit better since he’s been up here. I’ve been looking at that, little things like that that you notice. He obviously loves bunting, and he’ll learn how to utilize that a little bit better as time goes on, too.”

(What is his natural position?) “I don’t know. I’m comfortable with him at all three. You look at his arm strength, you look at his speed, he hasn’t had a tremendous amount of action. Obviously he gets so excited when the ball comes his way from time to time we’ve seen, but that’s not unnatural for younger player, especially with the tools he has. He has that howitzer; he wants to break it out. That’s a good question because that’s something we’d really have to play him a lot in spring training to see and give him a lot more opportunities, jumps, reads, angles.”

(Is it just luck of the draw the amount of action he gets?) “Totally is, yeah.”

(What’s the scouting report on KC’s starter, Yordano Ventura?) “He wings it, man. He throws it up there. We don’t have much on him, but he rifles it up there. Good arm speed, so no different than other young pitchers, but when you look at his skill set, it’s a little bit different. But we’ll have to check him out early and see what we can do from there. … Be ready to hit. … You throw 102, you’re going to get a few of them.”



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