Update 3:56 p.m.
Here’s a few highlights from our pregame meeting with Lloyd McClendon.
He was obviously asked about Jesus Montero’s first start being in the clean-up spot.
“He’s here to hit off of left-handers,” McClendon said. “We’ve got to put someone in the four hole.”
Why is he a good fit?
“There’s a left-hander on the mound,” McClendon said. “I think he’s a good option and he’s got some power, maybe he can run into one.”
McClendon did see some potential in Montero this spring.
“He got better as the spring went on,” McClendon said. “He showed some pop. As he got in shape, the bat speed came back. It was a tough year for him – the previous year – for obvious reasons. I think he’s bouncing back. I think he’s eager to make amends and contribute and help this team in any way he can. I for one am rooting for the kid. I hope he’s all the way back. And I hope he has a great game tonight.”
Montero’s conditioning isn’t complete.
“He’s still got aways to go,” McClendon said. “But he’s working hard at it.”
*** Robinson Cano was hit on the wrist a few night’s ago in a game. But it’s not an issue with his swing. Cano went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and two dribblers to the mound last night.
“He just had a bad game,” McClendon said. “He was coming around the ball. He’s human. He just had a bad night.”
*** McClendon was asked in what ways could John Buck catching help Erasmo Ramirez, his response was simple.
“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s not why I did it. Zunino is tired and he needs a break. The only person that can help Erasmo is Erasmo. We keep talking about veteran leadership and this and that – make your pitches, that’s all. Execute. That’s hard cold facts. We can cut the bull$*&^. Throw strikes and get them out. I can get back there and catch him. It doesn’t make any difference. I might not be able to get up. But he’s just gotta throw strikes.
*** McClendon was asked about bunting extra bunting practice.
“Extra bunting? No,” he said. “I hear that stuff all the time, ‘well, they need to work on bunting.’ Well come out at 3:30 or 4 o’clock and see all the work we do. That’s a bunch of bull$&*% You either execute or you don’t. The kid didn’t get the bunt down. He didn’t execute the bunt. It’s just that simple. It was a bad deal. We didn’t execute a hit and run. It was a bad deal. We lost a ball game as a result. It’s just 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’ll get your ass kicked today. And we aren’t going to do that.”
Jesus Montero is in the big league lineup for the first time this season and he’s batting fourth. Perhaps he learned something from catching Safeco Joe Saunders briefly last season that will help him out at the plate (I doubt it).
So this is the line-up. Not surprised to see Willie Bloomquist at shortstop with a lefty on the mound. Brad Miller had a tough game last night, but I doubt the Mariners will be making any changes soon. Manager Lloyd McClendon has liked what he’s seen from Miller the last two weeks. Mike Zunino gets the day off so he can catch Iwakuma tomorrow afternoon.
Yes, Safeco Joe is back in the house. In his career, he’s gone 8-1 with a 3.52 ERA (36 earned runs in 92 innings pitched) in 15 starts against the Mariners in his career. Saunders’ teams are 13-2 vs. SEA in his 15 starts, winning 12 straight since an Angels’ loss on 9/21/07 in Anaheim, which was his lone loss to the M’s. Saunders has won 7 consecutive decisions vs. M’s since start of 2008: 7-0, 2.87 (25 ER/78.1 IP) in 12 starts against Seattle.
Obviously last season didn’t help the myth of being “Safeco Joe.” He is 11-7, 3.77 (54 ER/129.0 IP) in 22 career games/starts at Safeco. But when he’s pitching AGAINST the Mariners, he is 6-0, 2.13 (13 ER/55.0 IP) in 9 career starts. As a visitor, he has most wins without a loss (6) of any opposing starter in Safeco history.
*** James Paxton (shoulder impingement) was playing catch pregame from about 60 feet.
*** Michael Saunders (sprained AC joint) did some agility work and conditioning.
*** Corey Hart (hamstring strain) did some running. He was moving pretty deliberately and being very careful when he slowed down.
*** Justin Smoak (strained quad) also did some running and footwork drills.
Here’s the Mariners’ numbers against Saunders …
Official game notes …
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