Balentien sits, but hes OK

Right fielder Wladimir Balentien is not in the starting lineup for today’s series finale against the Athletics, but it has nothing to do with his left wrist.

Balentien suffered a slight sprain trying to make a diving catch on a ball Athletics shortstop Orlando Cabrera hit in the first inning on Saturday.

The wrist was still a little sore this morning, but Balentien said he was available for pinch-running and defensive duty if needed.

He was reminded by several teammates that he came out of the play fortunate. He could have been injured the same way Mike Morse was a year ago when he tried to making a diving catch in right field, injured his shoulder so bad that he needed surgery that caused him to miss the remainder of the season.

“I was lucky,” Balentien said.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre told me during the final week of Spring Training that this team would be better than many expected and he’s right on so far. More than anything, the attitude inside the clubhouse and dugout are 180 degrees different than a year ago.

If it’s possible for players from so many countries to mesh, this could be the team.

Third baseman Matt Tuiasosopo mentioned the other day in Minneapolis that the difference between this April and last September is amazing. “Everyone is pulling for each other in the dugout and you never saw that (last year),” he said.

“If a guy has a great inning, guys on the bench are patting him on the back, and if he had a tough inning, he might get the same – with a hug thrown in,” Tuiasosop said. “On the bench, we’re talking about the game. That didn’t happen last September, either.”

The Mariners, who entered the season on a 13-game road losing streak, are assured of coming back to Seattle with a winning record.

— Jim Street

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