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March 31, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Opening day line-ups, game notes and links

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Mariners official game notes03.31.14 Game Notes

Angels official game notes: Angels game notes 3-31

Opening day roster: Opening Day Roster_2014

Mariners opening day record book …. Opening Day Record Book (2014) … Basically everything you need to know about the Mariners opening day history is in that book.

I think most people could have figured out the opening day line-up pretty easily. McClendon has Logan Morrison hitting above Kyle Seager today. Lots of lefties in there. But that will be the case any time they face a right-handed pitcher.

With about two weeks left in spring training, manager Lloyd McClendon moved Brad Miller up to the No. 2 spot in the order and moved Kyle Seager down in the order.

Why?

“I like speed at the top of the order,” he said. “It’s two fold. I think Kyle has the ability to drive in runs. I think he’s going to be a run producer and I wanted to put him in a spot where he get more opportunities to drive in runs.”

I receive countless complaints on Twitter about Abraham Almonte batting leadoff, based largely on his spring training production. First, I don’t know why the complain to me about the line-up. As if I make out the line-up or I’m going to voice their complaints to McClendon. Second, complaining about a line-up in spring training is just complaining about a line-up in spring training. Obviously, a lot of it has carried over to the regular season. We’ve asked him about 30 different times why he likes Almonte at the top of the order. He’s basically given the same response with these works ideas: speed, switch hitter, can bunt and steal a base and seems to make things happen.

I have no idea how long he will stick with Almonte if he struggles. As I said before, we have no prior history with McClendon to know how he operates. I will say that he seems a little more rational and pragmatic than Eric Wedge. But he clearly likes Almonte and I think he will give him some time to find his way.

As for the line-up in his bullpen, McClendon has decided on his set-up men for Fernando Rodney in the seventh and eighth inning. 

“I think for the most part you’ll see (Charlie) Furbush and (Tom) Wilhelmsen in the seventh and eighth inning,” he said.

McClendon also mentioned Danny Farquhar as another reliever that could be used in those innings. Still, it was interesting that he mentioned Wilhelmsen over Farquhar considering Wilhelmsen’s struggles last season. Wilhelmsen has looked good in certain outings this spring and not so much in others. He has yet to find the consistency needed to be dominant. Farquhar seems to be a little more predictable. Furbush didn’t pitch well this spring. He was sidetracked a little with some biceps tendinitis. But McClendon trusts him against left-handers.

Obviously the impact of Robinson Cano was asked. Based on what he’s seen this spring, McClendon couldn’t have been more pleased with what Cano has given the team.

“I think he came out probably better than advertised,” McClendon said. “As far as the quality of person and his desire to win and his desire to help young players on this team, I think he’s been – on a scale of 1-to-10 – he’s probably been a 15.”

And as a talent?

“Twenty,” McClendon said chuckling.

Catcher Mike Zunino will certainly have his hands full if Mike Trout gets on base tonight or in this series. Midway through spring training, McClendon had grown rather unhappy with how his pitchers were holding on runners at first base. It’s a major aspect to slowing down a running game, perhaps more important than a catcher’s arm.

“We did better toward the end,” McClendon said.

Zunino had a quiet be effective spring training. He didn’t wow with numbers. But McClendon was impressed.

“I’ve been really pleased,” McClendon said. “He’s made some progressions. We’ve tried to take it one step at a time and not to put too much on his plate. He’s handled every thing we’ve asked him to do. And he’s done a good job with it.”

Zunino made some changes to his swing. And while his numbers weren’t gaudy, he looked much better at the plate. He hit the ball with much more authority. The growth was enough to give McClendon optimism for future seasons for Zunino.

“I think eventually he’s going to be a run producer,” he said. “He has the ability the ball out of the ballpark to all fields. He’s getting a better knowledge of the strike zone. I think in time he’s going to be a run producer as a catcher.”

Notes … 

In the small sample size department —  Mike Trout is 15-for-38 (.395) against Felix Hernandez with two doubles, two triples, a homer and nine RBI along with two walks and eight strikeouts. He has a 1.036 OPS.  By comparison, Josh Hamilton is 10-for-61 (.164)  against Felix Hernandez with three doubles, a triple and homer. He’s struck out 20 times and walked eight. His  OPS is .563.

Why am I telling you this? I was on Baseball Reference for some reason looking stuff up and found that.

Felix Hernandez has a career 1.33  ERA in six opening day starts. Per the Elias Sports Bureau: That’s the lowest opening day ERA for any major-league pitcher with a minimum of 40 innings since Bob Feller had a 1.21 ERA in his seven career opening day appearances from 1939-49.

Linkage …

Here’s my story today on Felix Hernandez making his club record seventh opening day start.

Here’s Larry Stone’s column on the optimism of the opening day.

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