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June 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Mariners pregame notes and lineups: John Buck batting cleanup, Jesus Montero at first

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 10.21.16 AMAs you can see above, John Buck will bat cleanup today against Padres left-hander Eric Stults … and, yes, that’s Jesus Montero batting eighth and, for the first time in his career, playing first base.

Buck-le up, folks. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Montero started 42 games at first for Tacoma this year and made nine errors. Let’s hope Mike Zunino doesn’t pull a hamstring backing up first today.

UPDATE: Lloyd McClendon explained, or attempted to, his reasoning for starting Montero at first.

“Well,” he said, “we got a left-hander going, we need a first baseman and I’m not playing a left-handed first baseman. That’s why it works.”

McClendon was asked what gives him confidence that Montero can play first for the first time. “I never said I had confidence. I said I need a first baseman. He’s available and that’s who we’re going to put out there.”

McClendon said he didn’t want to start a left-hander, such as Logan Morrison, against Stults. Buck could’ve been another option at first.

“It is what it is. We’re doing what we have to do,” McClendon said.

Montero has two hits in seven at-bats since being recalled from Tacoma.

“It’s OK,” McClendon said of Montero’s swing. “It’s just been OK.”

____

Justin Smoak did more jogging in the outfield this morning as trainer Rick Griffin watched closely. Smoak is scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Tacoma on Wednesday.

____

Hisashi Iwakuma (sore neck) was doing some light throwing in the outfield pregame, apparently skipping his scheduled bullpen session. He is scheduled to start Friday at Kansas City. McClendon didn’t sound concerned.

“As I speak now, he will not miss a start,” McClendon said.

____

Interesting tidbit from the Mariners: The Mariners boast the best ERA in Interleague history with a 3.65 ERA in 310 games (1118 ER, 2758.0 IP) since the start of Interleague play in 1997.

More game notes below:

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