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July 11, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Friday’s pregame notes and lineups vs. the A’s — Saunders to the DL, Smoak

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Update 4:04 p.m. 

Michael Saunders suffered a “grade 2″  oblique strain. Manager Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t put a timetable on the absence, but said “it’s going to be a while.”

Saunders was visibly upset about the injury. He hates being on the DL.

“Obviously, it’s extremely frustrating for me,” he said. “That being said. I guess it’s something I have to deal with and do my best get back in there as soon as possible.”

Saunders wasn’t sure what happened at the time.

“It felt like a muscle cramp at the time,” he said. “I didn’t know the extent of the injury. I’ve never dealt with an oblique issue before. I didn’t really know what to expect. Movement-wise I feel pretty good. If I do certain things, I can feel it. But it feels like a muscle cramp more than anything, not a sharp pain, which I’ll take as a good sign.”

Smoak was the easy choice for McClendon. Smoak can play first base, giving Logan Morrison a break and also he’s a switch hitter.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” McClendon said. “Hopefully he can give us a little lift.”

How will he handle the playing time with Morrison, Hart and Smoak?

“Just like we did at the start of the year, we are going to rotate all three of them,” McClendon said. “Quite frankly, it’s kind of nice having all three of them back. It’s what we opened the season with. Hopefully they can be productive and we can get on a roll.”

Smoak feels better. The quad issues are gone.

“The last five or six or seven days, the legs are starting to get better,” he said. “My legs are feeling great. I’ve been scoring on doubles from first base. Maybe I’m a little quicker than I was.”

Well, that last part was obviously sarcasm. But Smoak admitted that playing through the leg issues affected him at the plate.

“I tried to play through some things and I think I started overcompensating and using my upper body more,” he said. “No excuses. It was part of it. I’m just trying to get back to where I was the first month of the year.”

*** McClendon wouldn’t overhype the series. He did admit that it’s always a little bigger playing the division leader. But he wouldn’t put in a greater meaning on it.

“If you think I’m going to say this is the do or die series of the year, that’s ridiculous,” he said. “I mean, come on. We’ll play one game at a time and hopefully we win the series. If we don’t win the series, it’s not the end of the year.”

The pitching match-ups are pretty solid.

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“This should be a fantastic series,” he said. “It will be right up our alley – low scoring.”

*** Tom Wilhelmsen won’t be available to pitch today after making the start yesterday. McClendon said he liked Wilhelmsen’s potential as a starter earlier this week. It’s something they will address in the offseason.

“I think it would awfully hard to build him this year, but certainly going into spring training, I think  it’s something we’ll probably entertain,” McClendon said. “Why not? He’s 94-97 with real good sink. He’s got a cutter, curveball, slider and a changeup. He’s a power guy. He’s got a power arm and he’s flourished in the long role. He’s mature enough to handle it.”

*** Jesus Sucre will start tomorrow. McClendon was going to catch him tonight, but since he put him in  for half the game the other day, he went back to Zunino.

*** McClendon was asked about he and Bob Melvin putting guys in the right position to succeed. But McClendon shrugged it off.

“I don’t want the accolades,” he said. “I don’t need them. And I’m sure Bob doesn’t need them either. The fact is  you are either the beneficiary or victim of how your players’ play. All this stuff about managers being geniuses and all of this, if they play good, I look good. If they play bad, I look bad. It’s that simple.”

From earlier 

The Mariners made a roster move today. Michael Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled with a strained left oblique. Justin Smoak has been recalled from Tacoma and is in the lineup tonight at first base.

Smoak was hitting .284 (21-for-74) with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 11 RBI in 19 games with AAA Tacoma. In his last 10 games with the Rainiers (June 29-July 10), Smoak hit .325 (13-for-40) with a double and 2 home runs. He hit a pair of home runs the other day in a game in Salt Lake City.

Smoak began the year with Seattle and hit .208 with 12 doubles and 7 home runs in 63 games. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 11 with a strained left quad, and began a rehabilitation assignment at Tacoma on June 18. He was recalled from his rehab assignment on optioned to Tacoma on July 4.

Corey Hart is out of the lineup for the day. He’s been struggling since being recalled from disabled list. What’s interesting is Hart is the player with the most at-bats against Samardzija. But he didn’t have a ton of success against him either.

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And since we’re on the subject, here’s the A’s hitters’ numbers against Felix Hernandez.

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