Update 11:20 a.m.
Here’s the answers to our daily queries about Brad Miller and his status on the team. McClendon has seen the swing percentages for Miller and the number of hacks at pitches out of the zone.
“It’s what happens,” McClendon said. “Hitting is hard enough. When things don’t go good, you expand and swing outside the zone. He’s getting better. He’s starting to take some walks. He’s taking pitches. He’s going deeper into counts. I expect him to break out of this any day. I really like what I’m seeing. I like his approach. I know he’s frustrated. He’s a strong-minded kid. He’s going to be okay.”
When mentioned that the perception is Miller is completely lost, McClendon said:
“If you are hitting .160, we are all lost,” he said. “I’ve been there. If you look at his career numbers in the minor leagues, there’s some pretty impressive numbers. He’s got a .925 OPS in the minor league. To think that he’s not going to hit at this level – he’s a career .334 hitter in the minor leagues – he’s going to hit. I know its frustrating for him right now. He’s not the first hitter in the history of the game to struggle.”
So there is that. There has been no rumblings of Nick Franklin being called up. I think Miller has this game and maybe the Rays series to show something. If nothing improves, they may be forced to make a move. But it’s clear that this isn’t just about Miller’s struggles. It seems to be the belief that Miller is their shortstop going forward and Franklin isn’t.
*** Michael Saunders was wearing a cotton sleeve over his left knee in the clubhouse. There wasn’t a noticeable limp when he walked. Really, the hyperextended knee he suffered in last night’s game seems to be a minor issue.
“It’s a lot better than expected,” he said. “It’s a little sore, a little swollen, but nothing that’s going to hinder me.”
Saunders wasn’t exactly sure how it happened. He hasn’t watched replays of it yet.
“I felt like I could I make the play,” he said. “And O realized I wasn’t going to get there at the last second and tried to pull up. There was some loose ground and my cleats came out from underneath me.”
He felt pain in his knee immediately.
“It felt awkward,” he said. “It felt a little bit loose. We did all the tests and there’s no ligament damage. I don’t even need to get an MRI.”
Saunders is day to day, but he feels this will be a minor situation.
“I haven’t pushed it yet,” he said. “If I’m needed later today, I feel comfortable ready to help. It’s not going to be long at all. I don’t think playing on it can make it worse.”
McClendon said he didn’t think he’d use Saunders today because he doesn’t want him running on the knee.
Saunders said the first thing he did when he got to the dugout was apologize to Chris Young for allowing the triple, which led to a run on a sac fly.
*** Taijuan Walker threw his first bullpen session in over a month. Walker threw 25 pitches – 19 fastballs, six change-ups – at about a 75 percent effort level.
“The arm felt good,” he said. “The arm felt normal. Everything I’ve been working on, I just have to put it on all the mound and sync it all together.”
Walker has been down this road before, so he isn’t allowing himself to get caught up in when he will be getting back into games, particularly with the Mariners.
” Just stay in the moment and just kind of focus on that day,” he said. ” You don’t want to get too far ahead. I just stay in the moment and make sure everything feels good. The arm is feeling good. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Walker will throw another bullpen session on Wednesday.
“The biggest test will be the second bullpen,” he said. “I will start mixing in curveballs and it will be about 35 pitches or so.”
James Paxton also threw a bullpen session on Sunday. He’s now scheduled to another one on Wednesday. That will be 55 pitches. If that goes well, he would move to a simulated game.
“I feel really good with my strength,” he said. “Ball’s coming out well. Everything was feeling good today. Curve ball I was throwing for a strike today, which is nice. I think the next step is getting up and down and getting that time off in between and getting hot and cold.”
Paxton wasn’t throwing at 100 percent effort level.
“It’s not game time yet, but letting it go pretty well, probably 80 percent, 85 percent,” he said. “Just letting it fly just a little bit.”
There is no reason to really push it at this point.
“They said don’t go game speed, just get my timing back and my rhythm back right now,” he said. “But as I get into my bullpen I’ve got that timing and I’m feeling good, I can let a few go and see how it feels. So I didn’t get up to quite 100 percent, but probably about 85 today.”
Kyle Seager is back in the line-up after missing a few days with the flu. Michael Saunders is out of the line-up after hyper extending his left knee yesterday.
McClendon talks at 11 a.m. so we will find out more details there.
It’s also Mother’s Day so expect pink bats and wrist bands and such.
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