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June 14, 2014 at 5:06 PM

McClendon fiery, Montero hitting cleanup

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon delivered a fiery and pointed response when asked if his team would spend extra time practicing bunting.

The quick backstory: The Mariners lost Friday’s game 1-0 to the Rangers in part because Cole Gillespie didn’t execute a hit-and-run in the third inning, and Brad Miller failed twice to get down a sacrifice bunt in the sixth.

McClendon’s answer when asked before Saturday’s game about working on bunting offered a window into his thought-process during Seattle’s four-game losing streak.

“I hear that stuff all the time,” McClendon said. “‘Well, they need to work on bunting.’ Come out at 3:30 or 4 o’clock and see the work we do. That’s a bunch of (BS). You either execute or you don’t. The kid didn’t get it down. He didn’t execute the bunt. It’s that simple. It was a bad deal. We didn’t execute a hit-and-run. It was a bad deal.

“We lost the ball game as a result,” he continued. “That’s the way it goes. But I can’t dwell on that stuff. We have to get ready for today. You start worrying about yesterday’s losses, you get your ass kicked today.”

Montero hitting cleanup: Jesus Montero didn’t get eased back into the lineup after more than a year since his last big-league plate appearance.

Montero hit fourth against the Rangers as the DH, and McClendon’s rationale was simple.

“He’s here to hit off left-handers,” he said.

Former Mariner Joe Saunders started for the Rangers, and McClendon said he thought Montero was the best option because of his potential power.

Montero hadn’t stepped into a batter’s box in a major-league game since May 20. He spent the rest of last season in Class AAA Tacoma, then showed up to spring training this year 40 pounds over the weight he was supposed to report at. At the time, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said, “Any expectations I had are gone.” McClendon said Montero was at a “crossroads.”

With injuries to Michael Saunders, Corey Hart and Justin Smoak — and with the struggles of Nick Franklin and Abraham Almonte in previous stints — the Mariners didn’t have much of a choice but to bring up Montero.

He hit .270 with eight homers and 40 RBIs in Tacoma this season. He also started getting in better shape, although McClendon said he “still had a ways to go.”

“As he got in shape, the bat speed came back,” McClendon said. “It was a tough year for him, but I think he’s bouncing back. I think he’s eager to make amends and contribute and help this team anyway he can.”



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