May 2009

Silva on DL, Vargas in rotation

A decision has  been on what to do with struggling right-hander Carlos Silva.

He was placed on the 15-day disabled list today.

The move was made to make room on the 25-man roster for right-handed closer Brandon Morrow, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list.

“Back in Anaheim, he had some shoulder inflammation back there and since that time he has battled it and I think we need to get him right and get him healthy,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “Now is the time to do that.”

Left-hander Jason Vargas replaces Silva in the rotation and will start Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers in Arlington.

“We want want to find out about some of the young guys, too,” Wakamatsu said. “He’s a guy that we liked in Spring Training and he pitched well at Triple-A to start the seasona and now we have a need to see him out there. He has shown us a lot in the games he has pitched.”

Silva, in the meantime, will receive treatment on his shoulder, step back and let his mind rest for awhile. Besides the ailing shoulder, he has been fighting himself.

The plan is for Silva to eventully throw some bullpens and at least one or two simulated games before returning to the rotation.

— Jim Street

Practice, practice, practice

There’s a team meeting of sorts going on as we speak at the Metrodome.

It’s called early batting practice and a big chunk the lineup is taking turns hitting against Antony Suzuki, one of the two Japanese translators that travel with the team.

The hitting group includes Ronny Cedeno (.138), Rob Johnson (.204), Ken Griffey Jr., (.205), Adrian Beltre (.208), Jose Lopez (.259), Franklin Gutierrez (.278) and Wladimir Balentien (.341).

Watching closely are manager Don Wakamatsu, bench coach Ty Van Burkleo and hitting coach Alan Cockrell.

The Mariners, you might have heard, are having a devil of a time scoring runs. They were shut out on Friday night and their season-high losing streak reached five in-a-row.

In the past four games, they have scored just four runs (three earned) in their past 36 innings and the meat of the batting order has been struggling, big-time.

Griffey just hit three consecutive pitches into the upper deck in right field, including one in right-center, just a few feet below the huge poster of the late Kirby Puckett and well above the baggy that separates home runs from doubles, or triples.

Beltre, who amazingly has no home runs this season, just cranked two-in-a-row in the left field seats. Sure, they con’t count, but it could be a start. He and Griffey are standing off to the side of the batting cage, chatting and working on their hitting knowlege, which is vast.

This stat alone tells you why the Mariners went from 15-10 to 15-15: during the first 25 games, they batted .324 (60-for-185) with runners in scoring position. During the five-game skid, they are batting .185 (5-for-39) MISP.

— Jim Street

Junior ties The Babe

You probably didn’t know this — and the man himself probably didn’t know this — but Ken Griffey Jr. tied Babe Ruth during Thursday’s game against the Royals.

Griffey hit his 506th career double in the 3-1 loss to the Royals. Next up is Rickey Henderson, who ranks 41st on the all-time list with 510 two-baggers.

Junior has hit three doubles in his past five games.

If he hits two home runs during this three-game series, Griffey would tie Jim Thome for most home runs by an opponent at the Metrodome. Thome has 27 and Junior checks in with 25, including one this season.

Another little known fact: Hall of Fame announcer Dave Niehaus reached the 5,000-mark for the number of Mariners games he has broadcast. Congrats. He doesn’t look a day over….never mind. He looks good and sounds good for a just-barely senior citizen.

Food for thought: The Mariners head into tonight’s series opener against the Twins with four runs scored in their past three games. The Red Sox scored 12 runs in ONE inning on Thursday.

More food for thought: The Mariners are 10-3 when scoring four or more runs and 5-11 when touching home plate three or fewer times.

I’m waiting for any news regarding right-hander Carlos Silva and what kind of plans the team has for him — keep him the rotation; re-assign him to the bullpen; put him on the DL with “mental fatigue”; or something else.

Stay tuned on that one.

Tonight also will be the final game withough closer Brandon Morrow. He will be activated prior to Saturday night’s game.

Just returned from the pre-game media session with Wakamatsu and there was nothing new of Silva. He is still scheduled to start one of the games against the Rangers in Arlington.

Meanwhile, left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith had a bullpen session and will pitch a simulated game on Tuesday in Texas — a two-inning, 30-pitch outing at The Ballpark in Arlington. He will take a day off, throw another BP session on Thursday, and then go to Peoria, Ariz., for extended Spring Training.

Wakamatsu explained that it would be easier to monitor his progress there and build him back into baseball shape instead of sending him out a rehab assignment with a Minor League team. That being said, Rowland-Smith eventually will have at least one rehab start, getting up to about 75 pitches before returning to the Mariners.

That could be in about three weeks.

The pre-game hitters meeting was mostly about being more patient at the plate. Wakamatsu told the hitters he would like to see more innings like the ninth inning in Thursday’s game in Kansas City.

Some of the best at-bats in the past several days occurred in that inning and even though they scored just one run, the improvement in patience was noticed. He said the hitters are “trying too hard” to do the job instead of just relaxing and letting their natural ability take over.

The exact same thing happened last season and it got progressively worse as the losses mounted.

Among the lineup changes tonight: Endy Chavez moved back into the No. 2 spot and Griffey batted sixth, behind Adrian Beltre.

From top to bottom:

1. Ichiro, RF

2. Chavez, LF

3. Jose Lopez, 2B

4. Russell Branyan, 1B

5. Beltre, 3B

6. Griffey, DH

7. Kenji Johjima, C

8. Franklin Gutierrez, CF

9. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS

P — Chris Jakubauskas

— Jim Street

 

Griffey ailing

Ken Griffey Jr. has  been scratched from tonight’s lineup because of an  “inflamed colon.”

He explained that it is something that occurs “about once a year” and usually goes away in a few hours. He is listed as day-to-day.

— Jim Street

Never say never

Sunday’s marathon game against the Athletics reminded me of somethhing Glenn Schwarz, an old colleague who went from covering baseball to becoming the sports editor for the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle, used to say: “Each team scored (so many runs) in the (such and such inning).”

It rarely happened the way he said it would, when the Athletics scored three runs in the top of the 13th inning in the series finale, I looked to my left at Bob Sherwin, a freelancer extraordinaire, and said, “Each team scored three runs in the 13th.”

And guess what happened?

Of course, that is not something I would have said a year ago. The come-from-behind spunk shown by the ’09 team already this season makes it much more interesting team to watch and follow.

As veteran Mike Sweeney said after the Mariners pulled out the 8-7 victory, “It was tough falling behind the way we did, but there was a rumbling in the dugout, and a feeling, that we are not going to give up. Even when were down by three runs in extra innings, we never quit. We showed a lot of character.”

The Mariners have come a long way from the team last season…a “team” that had players leave the dugout in the middle of the game and go into the clubhouse to watch the NBA Playoffs.

— Jim Street

Morrow goes on the DL

After more than a week of waiting for right-handed closer Brandon Morrow’s sore right arm to return to 100 percent, the Mariners ran out of patience and opted to put him on the 15-day disabled list.

Because it is retroactive to April 23, the last time he pitched, Morrow is eligible to come on the DL on May 9.

“Brandon’s situation was that he hadn’t pitched in about seven days and there will was some bicep tendinitis in there,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We had talked about him being available, but it’s at the point where we will be pro-active with this and allow him seven or eight more days. We can control it a little bit more (if he’s on t he DL). We feel it’s the best move for Brandon and for the club.”

Right-hander Denny Stark was promoted from Triple-A Tacoma to replace Morrow on the 25-man roster. He’ll likely pitch in the fifth to seventh innings. Right-hander David Aardsma would take of the closer role and backed up by Shawn Kelley.

Morrow leads the team in saves with five, while Aardsma has three.

— Jim Street

Back, back, back to 39

Check out the cool jerseys and cap the Mariners will be sporting on Saturday night against the Athletics. This will be worn by third baseman Adrian Beltre.

RainiersJersey.jpgIt is the latest version of Turn Back the Clock, this time all the way back to the 1939 Seattle Rainiers, which captured the first of three straight Pacific Coast League championships.

Those Boys of Summer won 101 games.

The first 20,000 fans receive a replica of the blue and red cap.

There are plenty of seats available for the 6:10 p.m. game that features a pitching matchup of left-hander Jarrod Washburn against Athletics right-hander Trevor Cahill.

— Jim Street