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Topic: kelly shoppach

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April 28, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Game thread: Mariners 1, Angels 1, bottom of 7th

Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakua has the best ERA of any AL pitcher since the All-Star Break of last season (minimum 15 starts) at 2.37.

Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakua has the best ERA of any AL pitcher since the All-Star Break of last season (minimum 15 starts) at 2.37.

Jason Bay just tied the game on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh, hitting a solo homer just beyond the left field wall. That’s a Safeco-fences-moved-in shot right there and Jason Vargas is the victim. As for the Mariners, they truly needed that one. We’re tied 1-1 in the seventh.

2:40 p.m.: The Mariners blinked first and trail 1-0 after an unearned run by the Angels in the sixth courtesy of shortstop Robert Andino’s error. With Austin Romine on second and one out, Mike Trout hit a grounder to Andino, who appeared to have his eye on third base. Trout would have been tough to nail at first because he’s so quick up the line and Andino might have had a better shot at third. But the ball got by him and rendered the whole point moot.

2:15 p.m.: We’re still scoreless heading to the fifth inning of a solid mound duel between Hisashi Iwakuma and Jason Vargas. Remember, Vargas pitches for the Angels now. Both teams have two hits apiece, the Mariners getting a one-out double to right by Kelly Shoppach last frame. But they failed to get him any further than that.

Menawhile, Iwakuma has logged six strikeouts already and retired the last seven in a row.

12:55 p.m.: This is a pretty important game for the Mariners. Take today’s contest against former Mariners starter Jason Vargas and the Mariners will have claimed three of four from the Los Angeles Angels and grabbed their first series of the season.

It’s late April, so that series win is long overdue. The Mariners have also not won two in a row since April 1 and 2 in Oakland. I can guarantee you, this will never be a .500 club if the Mariners fail to win two in a row the rest of the season.

They have Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound today and have played three pretty good games to start this series. Win three here, they will start to distance themselves a bit from that putrid road trip and can focus on how to get themselves back to the .500 mark come June. Michael Saunders is expected back in action tomorrow for the Mariners as long as he feels OK playing center field for Class AAA Tacoma today.

Saunders text messaged manager Eric Wedge last night and told him “I’m ready!”

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Comments | More in game thread | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma, jason vargas, Jesus Montero

February 19, 2013 at 8:01 AM

Watching the dynamic between Mariners catchers

Filming this little bit of a catchers drill at Mariners camp, I was struck not so much by the actual catching and throwing part, but by some of the interplay and exchanges between the catchers, coach Jeff Datz and manager Eric Wedge.

Watch a bit of it and you can see who feels comfortable taking charge out there, who needs a little work on that and just how the three guys doing the drill relate to one another. The three catchers featured are Mike Zunino, Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach, in that order. Just by watching, you can see the stature that Shoppach carries and how the others listen to what he has to say. This is the kind of stuff you don’t get to see looking at boxscores or even watching on TV during the season. Frankly, this is the thing I enjoy most about covering spring training. Getting to show you all the kind of stuff up close that is difficult to understand unless you can watch it up close. Just from being here — without having to be told anything officially — you can see how Shoppach is going to make the team regardless of what his spring stats look like.

“He’s done a nice job,” Wedge said of Shoppach. “I’ve known him from early on in Cleveland when he was younger. Had him the first couple years when he broke in. It’s been nice to see how far along he’s come. He’s had a leadership personality for us, in particular with the pitchers and the catchers. He does have some presence. He’s a good ballplayer. He’s a winning ballplayer.”

On paper, you’d never imagine that a first round draft pick (No. 3 overall) like Zunino, or a highly-rated young MLB prospect like Montero would give a hoot what a backup like Shoppach has to say. Or even a manager like Wedge who barely played catcher in the majors. But the reality of big league ball is that they do. The reason is that Shoppach has lasted in the majors while Zunino has yet to play a game and Montero is still learning how to play his position at this level. That’s not a knock on the young guys, just reality.  They may have talent, but honing it and using it to the best of their abilities is what this is all about and the margin between success and failure is razor thin. In the end, it’s Wedge’s job — regardless of his own prior on-field success as a catcher — to get the most out of his players any way he can and to make them into what they are supposed to be.

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: eric wedge, Jesus Montero, kelly shoppach

February 14, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Day 2 in the books for Mariners: Carter Capps looks like he wants to hurt somebody in the bullpen

Did a radio segment about an hour ago and was asked which player stood out the most for me today. That one was easy enough: young Carter Capps went into his bullpen session like it was Game 7 of the World Series and nearly took veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach’s hand off a couple of times.

“He got Shoppach’s attention early on,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge quipped.

Have a look at a video of the session up above.

Wedge said he isn’t too worried about Capps throwing so hard, so early.

“Thats who he is,” Wedge said. “He’s a big strong kid who throws hard. You look at effort. Aslong as you don’t see anybody putting themselves into a position to…try to do too much, that’s where you’ve got to pay attention. You’ve got eyes on these young pitchers out there and we have the conversations we need to have with these guys. We make sure they stay where they need to stay.”

Speaking of Shoppach, I asked Wedge about his catchers this year and whether he felt there was a need to further address all the passed balls and wild-pitches that went to the backstop last season. Teams go over pitch blocking every spring — you saw it in the video earlier today — but I asked whether the Mariners planned to focus extra-hard on it this spring.

Wedge said no.

“I think we’ve got a different cast of characters now,” Wedge said. “And I think that when you talk about our catching crew, I look at the five catchers that are in our camp right now…and you’ve got some guys who have some big league time and you’ve got some young catchers who should play in the big leagues for a long time. So, it’s a nice combination.”

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: carter capps, Jesus Montero, kameron loe