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September 25, 2014 at 9:54 AM

Thursday’s pregame notes and lineups: Mariners at Blue Jays

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Update 2:18 p.m. Pat Tabler time

Robinson Cano is battling sore quads. In between innings of last nights game, he was using a roller trying to work out the knots.

“It’s just this turf,” he said. “It always happens after a few games playing on this stuff.”

***

McClendon said that he expects both Taijuan Walker and James Paxton to continue to pitch in the offseason to build up their overall innings count. The two young pitchers have had truncated seasons because of injuries. The Mariners want to stretch them out a little  in preparation for next season.

Paxton has thrown just 81 1/3 innings this season because of shoulder and lat injuries. Paxton threw 169 2/3 innings last season. So they’d like to get him at least well over 100.

Walker has thrown a total 120 1/3 innings this season and missed most of spring training with shoulder injuries. He threw 156 1/3 innings last season, so he doesn’t quite as far to go get stretched out.

Both players will likely pitch in the Arizona Fall League. They both still qualify since they haven’t acquired one full year of uninterrupted service time.

The Mariners have already selected six players for the AFL. The limit is seven players. So there may be some adjusting.

These additional innings are used to build strength for next season. They won’t be high leverage situations. It’s a progression and both Walker and Paxton had their progressions interrupted by injuries.

***

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Asked Taijuan Walker to show us the changeup grip (above) that he’s using. As you can see, his hands are not little. It’s a typical palm ball grip with the index finger and middle finger spread. That takes off speed while generating some good sinking movement.

And it’s become a very effective pitch for him

From Brooks Baseball, here’s his usage last night …

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He’s used it a lot against lefties this season.

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Walker vs. Lefties …. from Brooks Baseball

“I think it’s a big time pitch for him,” McClendon said. “He’s even going to get better when he gains enough confidence to throw it to righties. The changeup has always been the great equalizer pitch. You can see what Buerhle does with it and he throws 84 mph. Imagine a guy that throws 98. He continues to need to work on it.”

Walker threw the changeup to right-handed hitters in the minor leagues, particularly with runners on first hoping to get rollover ground balls for double plays. He’s shown a lot of confidence in the pitch.

“My last two starts I’ve used it a lot,” Walker said. “I’ve gotten to the point where I can bounce it if I need to, get it over for a strike and keep it down.”

He learned the grip from minor league pitching coach Terry Clark last season.

“I got it right away,” he said. “I kept messing around with it and and tweaking some things and got real confident with it. I’ve tried almost every single grip out there, but this one was the easiest.”

Here’s some results from Brooks ….

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Walker’s pitch outcomes from Brooks Baseball

 

From earlier 

Little different lineup today with Robbie Cano at DH. The Mariners’ second base didn’t have great at-bats yesterday. I’m guessing Lloyd McClendon wanted to get him off his feet for a day. Dustin Ackley is out of the lineup as well. At this point,  McClendon is just trying to get anything to work.

****

Quick note on the Kyle Seager extension. I got the heads up on some arbitration numbers and my figures may have been a little low for him.

Realistically, Seager could probably get $5 million, if not more, for next season. Which would then push the second year projection to around $8 million and the third year to $11 million – these are guesstimates on the conservative side. But that would push that total up a little more.

Need some comps?

Pedro Alvarez in his first of arbitration eligibility got $4.25 million and there is Mark Trumbo of the D’Backs, who picked up $4.8 million in his first year of arb eligibility.

So let’s see how they stack up? Thanks to the magic of Fangraphs 

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*****

Want to see something gross?

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Kendrys Morales’ year has been awful. The Mariners experiment to get him – which I was in favor of – has failed. I don’t if Morales can hit anymore. But he’s at a crossroads in his career. He will have a full season next year. Will it help? It certainly couldn’t be worse than this season.

Mariners official game notes

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