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June 15, 2014 at 11:46 AM

Sunday’s pregame notes and lineups vs. the Rangers

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Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. Happy Father’s Day to my dad, Ed, though I doubt he knows how to actually get on the blog to read this. But he taught me how to throw and hit a baseball, how to flyfish,  how to grill a steak, how to appreciate whiskey and  many other things.

Not a whole lot of earth shattering coming out of Lloyd McClendon’s pregame media meeting. Obviously,

“We haven’t played very well,” McClendon said. “The Yankees beat us in those three games. We didn’t lose games, they beat us. They outplayed us. That’s baseball. We didn’t hit in the Felix game and yesterday we let a lot of opportunities go by. That’s the way the game goes. You don’t like it. But it happens to everywhere.”

McClendon doesn’t take for granted the difficulty to win just one game at the MLB level.

“People don’t win how hard it is to win on a nightly basis,” McClendon said. “It’s hard to win games. You can do everything right and still lose and sometimes you can do everything wrong and still win. The last five games we’ve been in them but one thing can cause you to lose a ball game. We just have to pick up the pieces and get ready for the next game.”

*** Justin Smoak (strained quad), Corey Hart (strained hamstring) and Michael Saunders (shoulder inflammation) are all inching closer to going out on rehab assignments.

“They are close,” McClendon said.  If all goes well, all three could be on rehab assignment by the end of the week. Obviously, Smoak and Saunders will come quicker because they have been playing. We have to careful with Corey because he has been out longer to build his at-bats up – make sure he’s swinging well and running well.”

Smoak is able to come off the disabled list on June 24, Saunders is eligible on June 26. Hart can come off whenever.

Speaking of Tacoma, Taijuan Walker had a solid out for the Rainiers last night, throwing 6 1/3 hitless innings before giving up a hit. 

McClendon didn’t have much to say about it.

“I’ve said before, I’m not really concerned about performances, good or bad,” McClendon said. “I’m more concerned his physical capabilities. He got his pitch count up to I believe 94 yesterday. We are certainly moving in the right direction. We’ll see if he’s able to answer the bell and get ready for his next start.”

Erasmo Ramirez was mildly better in his start last night, throwing five shutout innings. But let’s be honest, it wasn’t exactly an inspiring five innings. I believe “smoke and mirrors” might be the operative cliche. It certainly didn’t cement his spot in the rotation or give McClendon overwhelming confidence.

“He still has show us something,” McClendon said. “Ninety pitches in five innings is not what I would consider a great outing. Is it better than his last start? Yes. Is it better than the start before that? Yes. He still had four walks. He’s taking baby steps. He’s getting better. But I’d be lying to you if I said I was really happy with his start. He had five shutout innings. But I think if anybody looked at that game, you wouldn’t say it was a clean five innings. He got a lot of breaks and a lot of fortunate things happened for him. He’s got to get better than that. He ran into a Tampa team that wasn’t swinging the bat well. And the Texas Rangers are far from the product that we know they can be. It’s got to be better than what I’ve seen.”

With Walker and Ramirez on the same work schedule, there has been talk about Walker replacing Ramirez in the rotation. But McClendon didn’t have an answer for that.

“I don’t have a timetable for when Taijuan Walker is coming here,” McClendon said. “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t make that decision as to when he’s coming here. I’ve said this time and time again, my job is to take the players that the general manager gives me and help them to perform to the best of their ability. I don’t pick the roster. Do I have a say? Yes. But do I dictate when Taijuan Walker is coming here? No. That’s a question for the general manager.”

The Mariners have never faced Rangers’ starter Nick Martinez in a big league game. Here’s the numbers for the Ranger vs. Hisashi Iwakuma.

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