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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

April 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Tuesday’s pregame notes, links and line-ups vs. the Astros

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Updated 5:44 p.m.

Probables in case you missed it.

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More McClendon 4:32 p.m.

Logan Morrison did some running before the simulated game today. McClendon said Morrison is getting close to going out on a rehab assignment.

McClendon said that Stephen Pryor is still trying to get his velocity up. It’s been climbing, but it’s not where it needs to be for him to be brought back.

On the hitting struggles: 

“I had a long talk with someone that I really trust about this. You leave spring training with a club. You feel good about that club. You are 20 games into the season and you aren’t playing as well as you should be playing. You don’t drastically change your feelings about how you feel about those players. You continue to encourage them. You continue to make them better. You continue to prod them. And hopefully, in the very near future, they will get going the way you think they can. That’s our plan here. I’m going to continue to not make any drastic changes. I’m don’t feel any different about my players now than I did coming out of spring training. I like my club. I think we are talented. Are we short in some areas? Yeah. But I like my club. I like the pitching. Now we are banged up a little bit and we’ve been dealt a tough hand, but we’ll deal with that. We’ll bluff are way through it. In the end we’ll be just fine.

The old baseball cliche is 40 games or the first of June before you know what a team is or isn’t, do does he believe in that?

“I’ve always said it’s 50 games before you know what type of club you have. And I haven’t gotten off of that. “

Is he seeing different things from guys that he saw this spring?

“Guys in are funk right now. When you lose seven in a row, guys press a little bit. It’s the nature of the business. At some point you got to come out of it, maybe it’s a broken bat single, maybe it’s a home run. I don’t know. I ‘ll know when it happens and you will too.”

Is there a certain number of at-bats/plate appearances he uses to help to determine what hitters are?

“Over the course of the season, guys will accumulate 500 to 550 at-bats, I don’t think I’m going to change my mind after 50 at-bats. I don’t know exactly what that cut-off mark is, maybe somewhere around 150 at-bats. You’ll see what you have and whether you need to make changes. But it’s certainly not after 40 or 50 at-bats.”

Have the set up roles changed in the bullpen?

“As we speak right now, no, the roles have not changed. I have interchangeable parts and I explained that to guys, but nobody’s role has completely changed.”

Update 4:12 p.m.

Hisashi Iwakuma threw 58 pitches in a four-inning simulated game. His fastball was right around 89-90 mph on the stadium radar gun, which is a tick or two slower than usual. But he’s still building arm strength. The Mariners gave Iwakuma a variety of looks in the sim game, making him field bunts, cover first, throw pickoff moves to first base as well as face batters. He faced Willie Bloomquist, Stefen Romero, Logan Morrison and Nick Franklin.

“I was able to focus like a regular game,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “I felt a lot better. My feel for the game is coming back gradually. I felt a lot better than the last time when we did the sim game in Miami.”

Following the sim game in Miami, Iwakuma said he was about 70 percent of himself. This time it was higher.

“The ball jumped out of my hand pretty well today and I feel pretty close to the regular season,” he said.

Iwakuma’s is dealing with a blister on the inside of his middle finger again. It’s annual rite for him as he throws more and more splitfinger fastballs and that skin is rubbed.

“This happens all the time at this point in the season,” he said. “I’m not worried. It’s not as bad as what we’ve seen in the past.”

Iwakuma will join Class AAA Tacoma this weekend and will pitch in Las Vegas on Sunday. He will be around 75 pitches.

Manager Lloyd McClendon and pitching coach Rick Waits were both impressed with what they saw from Iwakuma.

“I thought he had better finish to his fastball, better finish to the breaking ball. I thought he was sharp,” McClendon said. “The fastball had that little bump right at the end. I was very pleased with what I saw today. ”

Could Iwakuma be back after just one rehab start?

“We’ll see,” McClendon said. “But you have to be patient.”

 Waits liked the progress.

“I think the main thing is that he’s getting better,” Waits said. “I think the thing I was probably the most impressed with today was in that fourth inning, he still had great arm strength. And that’s the thing I was looking for, that he wasn’t tiring. He threw some very good fastball in that last inning.”

As for command, Waits liked what he saw in all the pitches.

“All four pitches working and as a matter of face his curveball was really working today,” Waits said. “His best pitches are his fastball and split, but I was pretty impressed with his curveball.”

Waits wouldn’t put any time table on a return.

“I like to go one game at a time before we go any further,” Waits said. “He’s ready for Vegas and we’ll evaluate that and see where we go.”

 From earlier …  

Sorry about the delay … the wireless went down at the stadium for a while, but they have it fixed now.

Hisashi Iwakuma is pitching a simulated game here at Safeco Field this afternoon. With weather and rain expected in Tacoma, the team decided to keep him at Safeco and control the situation. I’m guessing he will join the Rainiers when they travel to Las Vegas next week where it’s nice and warm and never rains. He’s also a big fan of buffets and the Wheel of Fortune slots.

Not much new with the line-up. Ackley still at No. 2 and Miller batting ninth. I did think we might see Abraham Almonte get a day off today. But he’s back in there, which makes many people emotional.

From the links department … I was on KJR once again (can you say over-saturation?) Here’s my interview with Mitch Levy from my barbershop this morning.

[do action=”kjr-embed” src=”https://media.iheart.com/player/embed.html?autoStart=false&useFullScreen=true&mid=24661509&siteid=645&startButtonColor=0xA33335&share=http%3A//www.sportsradiokjr.com/media/podcast-mitch-in-the-morning-ondemand-mitchinthemorning/422-ryan-divish-24661509/&podcastFeed=mitchinthemorning.xml&programName=podcast” frameborder=”0″ allowtransparency=”true””/]

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