Updated 4:39 p.m. Dan Gladden time:
“Ready to go,” Michael Saunders said about being back in the line-up. It’s clear he is tired of talking about his sore left knee and he’s anxious to show he’s back to his old self tonight.
Saunders was batting lead-off when he got hurt, now he’s hitting second behind James Jones. Does that change anything?
“The general consensus is that you might see more fastballs,” Saunders said. “I think it depends more on the pitcher and how guys typically get you out. I’ve heard throughout the years that hitting behind the lead-off guy you are going to see more fastballs. Personally, I don’t believe that. I believe how pitchers have been getting you out is how you are going to get pitched. Their main concern is getting the guy out at the plate. Now that being said, a guy like Jones gets on first, he’s a threat to steal so you might see maybe another fastball here or there. I really feel like they’re going to pitch to their strengths and to your weaknesses.”
The guy hitting behind him – Robinson Cano – might make more of a difference in the pitches he sees.
“Absolutely,” Saunders said. “I might see more fastballs because of him. I don’t think they want to walk me to get to him.”
McClendon on his hat toss:
“Yeah my shoulder feels it today,” he said. “I got a new cap.”
McClendon on Tom Wilhelmsen:
“He’s throwing better. He’s throwing more strikes. I just think the fact that he’s in the zone a lot more and not working behind in the count as much. He’s got a lot of weapons and he throws 97. But when you are behind in the count and you are forced to use the fastball, hitters don’t care how hard you throw. If they know it’s coming, you’ll get hit. He’s locked in.”
Wilhelmsen hasn’t allowed a run in his last nine appearances (11 1/3 innings pitched) and has struck out 13 batters and walked just four in that time.
The last time the team was in Minnesota, things didn’t work out quite as well for Wilhelmsen.
Logan Morrison, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are all on the trip to continue their rehab work from their respective injuries.
Paxton will throw a two-inning sim game tomorrow at 1:45 p.m. here at Target Field. Morrison will hit in that sim game. I’m sure Jones and Stefen Romero and Willie Bloomquist will hit in that game. Morrison (strained hamstring) took early BP today and did some running. When he does go out on a rehab assignment, expect him to to use all 20 days of his rehab assignment to get his timing back.
Walker will throw a 40-pitch bullpen tomorrow. If that goes well, he’d throw a sim game in Texas.
John Buck’s right hand is swollen and sore, but he told McClendon he’s available if needed.
“He’s a tough guy and said he’s ready to go,” McClendon said.
The line-ups are out. Michael Saunders is back in there and batting second. Brad Miller is still in there and batting ninth. With Chris Taylor hurt and Nick Franklin doing what he’s doing in Class AAA and hitting everything in sight, but not getting called up, it appears that the Mariners will go with Miller for a little while longer.
In talking with Chris Gwynn yesterday about the injury to Chris Taylor, he also mentioned that Anthony Fernandez was seeking a second opinion on what appears to be a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. It appears Tommy John surgery is inevitability for Fernandez.
We meet with Lloyd McClendon at 3:30 p.m. Twins time.
How about a few links to pass the time …
Adam Jude wrote about the use of shifts by the Mariners and their opponents and the game within the game with comments from Justin Smoak, Lloyd McClendon, Chris Woodward and Joe Maddon.
From the story …
Still, Smoak has been pondering ways to beat the shift, a defensive tactic being used more than ever throughout baseball. Smoak hit into an infield shift more than any other Mariner last year, and he has one seemingly simple solution to shock the shift.
“It’s going to happen one time this year where I lay a bunt down,” said Smoak, who hit into the shift 102 times in 2013, according to data collected by Hardball Times. “It’s just a matter of me doing it. But it’s going to happen, and hopefully it will change things up.”
That would seem to make Kristin Smoak happy. Earlier this month, she took to Twitter to share her displeasure with the infield shift, presumably after another of her husband’s would-be hits turned into another routine ground out.
“I despise the shift … Not to sound like a whiny baby but I don’t think it’s right,” she tweeted.
Sorry, the shift has become the new normal, and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon seems to relish “the psychological ploy” it creates with hitters.
“All this movement is infiltrating the rest of baseball right now,” said Maddon, who is credited with popularizing the shift, which the Rays have used for years. “Regarding quote-unquote ‘beating the shift,’ there’s different ways of looking at that, too. Just because you hit the other way doesn’t mean you necessarily beat the shift.”
Mike Trout, who leads the AL in strikeouts, has been slumping of late. But he did blast a walk-0ff three-run homer to beat the Rays last night.
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