I’ll be pinch-hitting for Ryan Divish on our Mariners’ game coverage the next couple days. Not the reporter you might have expected and not the pitching matchup we all expected coming into this one, either, as a Yankees rain-out pushed Masahiro Tanaka‘s start to Wednesday.
Tonight’s we’ll see Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma versus New York leftie Vidal Nuño.
I’ll update this post before first pitch with some pregame quotes.
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Update 6:19 p.m. — I wrote our Mariners notebook on Gareth Morgan, who took batting practice today after his signing. He started off slowly but finished with a couple home-runs, including a mammoth shot into the upper deck in left field.
“At the end I got a couple,” he said, smiling, after signing a few autographs.
Morgan said he was a little nervous at first. He is set to play for the AZL Mariners in the Arizona Rookie League as he awaits his visa.
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Update 4:46 p.m. — Here are some quotes from of our interview with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon earlier today…
(How is Justin Smoak?) “He’s probably 70-75 percent. He’s just not there. … It’s been very frustrating for him. We’ll see how he is tomorrow and just trying to move forward.”
(Is this a DL type of situation or is he still day to day?) “As we speak right now, it’s day to day. We’ll see what happens moving forward.”
(Is he progressing?) “I would say he’s progressing some, obviously not at the pace we’d like. How many days has it been now? Five? We’ll see.”
(Do you have an idea of how much starts you’d like to see from Taijuan Walker in Tacoma?) “No, I really don’t. I just want to see the kid get healthy and play well. I think it’s beyond trying to rush him. The ideal now is to get him built and get him pitching consistently and feeling good about what he’s doing. At that point, then we can make a decision.”
(What did you hear about his last start?) “Probably the same things you guys heard. Threw 77 pitches, gave up two home runs, felt OK after the game.”
(Is that a step forward?) “Sure. He hasn’t been able to build his pitches to that point. It’s a positive step. I’m not really concerned about performance, so to speak. I’m more concerned about durability and getting out there every five days and being consistent about what he’s doing.”
(How important is it to improve your home record?) “Well, I think when we play at home it will get better. We’ve been on the road so much. Our guys understand the urgency with playing better at home and protecting your home turf. If you’re going to be successful, you have to play well above .500 at home and do the best you can on the road. Right now it’s the opposite, but we’re working on it, and hopefully tonight is a good start for us.”
(What advantages should you have at home?) “The only advantage you have is who’s throwing on the rubber that night, and tonight I’d say we probably have a little bit of an advantage. I feel good about our guy. And that’s what it’s all about. You can talk about momentum and strategy and home-field advantage, it depends on who’s on the mound. That’s momentum. If Iwakuma goes out and does what he’s capable of doing, we’ll have a real good chance of winning. But ask me that question again tonight at 10:30 and I’ll probably have a better answer.”
(Does the success of your pitching recently influence your lineups at all?) “No. My lineups are what they are and we do the best we can. Whether we’re pitching well or pitching bad, those lineups are going to be the same.”
(Do you have any plan with Logan Morrison as the end of his rehab assignment nears?) “Jack and I will talk about that in the next day or two. He’s scheduled to come off Wednesday, so we’ll see.”
(Has the play of your reserves been a pleasant surprise or expected?) “I mean we’ve had some surprises. We’ve had some disappointments, as well. I think our attitude coming out of spring training, the way our guys prepared, I’m not surprised by that one bit. Listen, I said this probably two, three weeks ago: Do we have warts? Do we have challenges? Yes. Can we win? Yes. To what extent? I don’t know. I still don’t have that answer. I like my team. I like where we are. I like their attitude.”
(Has James Paxton been throwing?) “Pax has been playing catch everyday. I don’t think he’s scheduled to throw off the mound any time soon, but he’s making progress, he’s feeling pretty good, the doctors are pleased with where he is, so we’ll just keep moving forward with him.”
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Update (4:08 p.m.): The Mariners confirmed the signing of second-round draft pick Gareth Morgan (No. 74 overall). He will report to the Arizona League and reportedly got a $2 million signing bonus. He is at the stadium and will take batting practice. We’ll talk to him after.
I’ll update with quotes, but in some quick notes…
— There was a lot of Derek Jeter talk, something we’ll be covering in the paper tomorrow as his farewell tour continues here.
— Manager Lloyd McClendon estimated Justin Smoak (quad) is about 70-75 percent healthy and isn’t ready to go yet.
— James Paxton has been playing catch but there are no immediate plans to get him throwing off the mound at this stage.
— There is no plan in place regarding Logan Morrison‘s rehab assignment ending soon. McClendon and GM Jack Zduriencik will chat about it soon.
— There is no set amount of starts for Taijuan Walker in Tacoma before a potential call-up.
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Here are some quick notes:
— Tuesday will mark the 1,000th MLB game for Mariners utility man Willie Bloomquist, a Bremerton native.
— Michael Saunders (shoulder) returned to the lineup after missing three games. Justin Smoak (quad) was out for the fourth straight time.
— The Mariners will honor retiring Yankees legend Derek Jeter at 6:50 p.m. tonight. Jeter’s first career hit actually came in Seattle (April 30, 1995).