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April 11, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Friday’s pregame notes and line-ups – McClendon discusses Taijuan Walker’s return, Robinson Cano and home runs

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With lefty Tommy Milone getting the start for Oakland, this line-up should be expected.

Here’s the probables for the next few days. You’ll notice it’s still TBA for Tuesday.

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Manager Lloyd McClendon said he will likely announce who will start Tuesday’s game in Texas against the Rangers in the next 24 hours.

It’s basically down to Blake Beavan or Taijuan Walker.

Obviously, most people would prefer to see Walker. But McClendon and the Mariners are not going to rush Walker back into the rotation if he’s not ready. Walker has made two rehab starts this season to go with the handful of minor league starts this spring. That might not be enough for McClendon to consider him ready.

“We want to be cautious with Taijuan,” McClendon said. “We have to makes sure he’s ready to compete at this level. The game is a little bit more stressful at this level than it is at the minor league level. The number of pitches that you throw. The outs that you get are going to be harder. You have to take all of that into account when we decide if we are going to bring him in or somebody else.”

The lack of innings this spring is a major issue. Bringing Walker back to face a potent Rangers’ line-up with just two rehab starts might not be the best idea.

“It has everything to do with the lack of work he had in spring training, the amount of innings he had because of the injury he had in spring training,” McClendon said. “We have to make sure that if he’s the guy we are going to bring, he’s gotta be ready to compete at this level and there are no bars or limitations.”

Because when the Mariners decide to bring Walker back to the rotation – the plan is for him to stay there. That’s how they know he will be ready, both physically and mentally.

“That’s important,” McClendon said. “To come in, you got to compete high level. It can’t be 80 percent here and 75 percent there, it has to be 100 percent all-in.”

Other notes …

James Paxton received a shot in his strained lat to help the healing. Paxton said it’s odd. He knows he is hurt, but nothing hurts on his body.

“I feel completely normal,” he said. “Even that night when I went to sleep and the next day, I feel normal.”

He will receive treatment and then be re-evaluated in 7-8 days. A rehab plan would follow.

Hisashi Iwakuma will throw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. He will mix in breaking balls and a few split-finger fastballs as well. McClendon said Iwakuma is at least two more bullpens away from facing live pitching.

Michael Saunders has an abrasion and bruising around his right eye after face planting on head first slide into first base.

Saunders dropped down a bunt base hit and thought the pitcher might try and flip the ball to the first baseman who would have to tag him. So he was diving to avoid a possible tag – that never came. Instead, he got a face full of dirt and eventually shiner.

“So that didn’t work out too well,” he said. “I knew right away I did something. I just didn’t know if I broke it open.”

That will be the only situation where you see Saunders slide head first into first.

“I don’t believe in it and it’s just not the safest play,” he said. “You’ll never me slide into first on a ground ball to third base or short stop or second base he said. I won’t slide to try and beat it out. Only to avoid a tag.”

McClendon was also asked about when Robinson Cano hitting his first home run. That response was interesting.

I’m not the least bit concerned about Robby’s first home run. Check the book, they will be there. When it’s all said and done, his numbers will be right they are supposed to be.

It’s a probably question I need to address so I don’t have hear that question anymore. Robinson Cano is one of the arguably one of the five best hitters in baseball and has been for the last nine years. It’s not going to change just because he put on a Seattle Mariners’ uniform. What I’d like to see Robby do is lead the league in doubles because I don’t worry about home runs. His home runs will be there. We are all waiting on it. I’m sure he is too. But it’’s not a concern of mine.

If I have to worry about Robinson Cano, I should quit right now.

So there was that.

But didn’t he say earlier that he wanted Justin Smoak to lead the league in doubles?

“Well, they can share then,” he said laughing.



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