May 2010

Bradley taking BP at Safeco Field

A game plan put in place for Milton Bradley prior to the Mariners’ last road trip appears to be reaching its final stages.

Bradley is in uniform and taking early batting practice as we speak and we are waiting for a release from the organization on the situation.

General manager Jack Zduriencik said two weeks ag;o that Bradley’s status would be re-evaluated when the team returned from their recent road trip to Baltimore, St. Petersburg and Oakland, which takes us to today. I would be surprised if Bradley is not activated and in the lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Blue Jays.

For one thing, the team needs another veteran bat in the lineup and, let’s face it, the offense is better off overall with the switch-hitting Bradley in the middle. A Bradley that is sound mind and body, that is.

— Jim Street

Moore on DL, Bard promoted

The Mariners just placed catcher Adam Moore on the 15-day disabled list and called up left-handed hitting Josh Bard from Triple-A Tacoma.

Bard has joined the team in St. Petersburg for today’s series finale against the Rays and inserted into the starting lineup. The original lineup  had Rob Johnson catching but he has been bothered by a sore back.

To make room on the roster for Bard, who was not on the 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day, but it’s more of a paper move than anything.

Bedard has been on the DL since March 26 — 51 days ago. He would be eligible to come off the disabled list in nine days.

The new lineup remainder of the lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
4. Jose Lopez, 3B
5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH
6. Casey Kotchman, 1b
7. Josh Wilson, SS
8. Josh Bard, C
9. Michael Saunders, LF
LHP Cliff Lee

 

— Jim Street

A lineup that includes Junior

The lineup for today’s series finale against the Rays had a noticable change.

Batting fifth as the designated hitter — Ken Griffey Jr.

“A couple of different thoughts,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “I think it’s important that Griff play at least one game here and the other thing, with (Mike) Sweeney playing three games in a row, he might need a day off, too. It gives Griff a chance a get back in there.”

It was the first time in the past five games that Griffey, who lives in Orlando, was in the starting lineup.

The team is waiting until game time to make a decision on how to handle the catching situation. Rob Johnson is in the starting lineup but he might not be able to play because of a sore back. Adam Moore, injured in Saturday night’s game, definitely won’t play against the Rays.

The remainder of the lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
4. Jose Lopez, 3B
5. Ken Griffey Jr. DH
6. Casey Kotchman, 1b
7. Josh Wilson, SS
8. Rob Johnson, C
9. Ryan Langerhans, LF
LHP Cliff Lee

— Jim Street

Junior clearing fences in early BP

There might be a little extra adrenaline flowing through Ken Griffey Jr.’s body today.

He is participating in early batting practice — and driving balls left, right and center, over fences in each direction.

The BP pitcher is left-hander Rick Adair, who obviously lacks a few mph on his fastball compared to pitchers Griffey faces after 7 p.m.

The fallout from his reported snooze in the clubhouse accelerated last night after the game.

Winning pitcher Cliff Lee was answering questions when he suddenly stopped, looked to his right and saw Larry LaRue, the excellent baseball writer from the News Tribune — a friend and competitor of mine since 1988.

For this night at least, Lee — and several other players — were boycotting “Lash” because of the article linking Junior to the snoozing incident in the clubhouse, which turned out not to quite accurate.

How long the boycott lasts is anyone’s guess, but another writer never likes to see another one get singled out like that. But, it’s a tough business, more so now in the Internet era than the old newspaper era we grew up in.

There is good news for the hitters tonight — the temperature is actually nudging 70 degrees. What a concept!

One of the press box attendants (someone even older than me) told me it was colder last night (45 degrees) at game time than it was on Opening Night last month (46 degrees). I believed him.

But it is shirtsleeve weather right now (3:30 p.m.) and might be even warmer for tomorrow’s day game.

In the meantime, shortstop Jack Wilson was placed on the disabled list with a back of the knee tendon ailment and Matt Tuiasosopo was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. Mike Wilson, meanwhile, was promoted from Double-A West Tennessee to Tacoma. The Rainiers are currently in Nashville for a series.

It’s almost time to journey to the clubhouse and gather some information, some of which will be passed along in this blog.

And here is the starting lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Casey Kotchman, 1B
4. Jose Lopez, DH
5. Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B
6. Ryan Langerhans, CF
7. Josh Wilson, SS
8. Adam Moore, C
9. Michael Saunders, LF

LHP — Ryan Rowland-Smith 

— Jim Street

The Junior watch is on

Now that the cat-nap’s out of the bag and a snooze heard ’round the baseball world has reached everywhere but YouTube, what happens next in Ken Griffey Jr.’s Hall of Fame career is anyone’s guess.

Does he admit that, yes, he was sleeping in the Mariners clubhouse during a game and if so, why?

Does he want to find out who the unnamed teammates were that “ratted” on him?

It is interesting to me that a team that was so close a year ago and clearly had each other’s back is suddenly talking behind someone’s back. That is not a good sign in any clubhouse.

Does he have an exit strategy of his own?

Does he think the organization wants him to leave?

It is clear to anyone that has watched the team this season that Junior is only a shadow of his former self. The tough part is for him and the organization to decide when it’s time to cut the cord and move on. I know Junior would want to go out on his own terms and forcing the issue would only cause him to dig his cleats in even deeper than they are.

I can’t imagine him wanting to stick around for the next130 games performing the way he has the first 30 games. It would do neither him nor the team any good.

How many at-bats does he need to get untracked? Will his production improve if the weather is warmer? Would he improve if practically every hitter around him would produce more hits and runs?

But the immediate future is not just about Junior, although he is now the lightning rod for a team gone sour.

Unless this hitters start scoring runs and team starts winning games with reasonable regularity, there would be wholesale changes to a roster that many expected to challenge for the AL West title.

Left-hander Cliff Lee could be among the first to go. He is in the final year of his contract and nothing has happened yet that would convince me he would want to sign long-term. But there is still time, though time is running out, for things to turn around.

The trade market has yet to develop because it’s still early in the season, but GM Jack Zduriencik already has been trying to lay the groundwork for deals that could become the foundation for future years.

As for Junior, I just hope his bat comes to life enough to where he can finish out this season on a good note and he can ride off into the sunset and start working on his Hall of Fame induction speech.

But getting from here to there could be one of the most-watched developments in franchise history.

— Jim Street

 

Ichiro, Matsui meet again

The first pitch of the Mariners-Angels game is almost four hours away and the press box is unusually active. There are at least twice as many Japanese writers in the ‘box than U.S. scribes.

The reason: the first meeting of the season between Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki and Angels designated hitter Hideki Matsui, still two of the most famous Japan-born players anywhere.

Ichiro, the first player in Major League history to have nine consecutive 200-hit seasons, is off to another good start in quest of 10, 200-plus hit seasons, which would tie Pete Rose for the all-time record for most 200-hit seasons in a career.

The Mariners right fielder has at least one hit in 15 of his past 19 gamjes, batting .363 during the hot streak.

Matsui, meanwhile, is batting .243 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in his first season with the Angels.

Meanwhile, here’s the starting lineup:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Chone Figgins, 2B
3. Casey Kotchman, 1B
4. Franklin Gutierrez, CF
5. Ken Griffey Jr., DH
6. Jose Lopez, 3B
7. Josh Wilson, SS
8. Rob Johnson, C
9. Michael Saunders, LF
RHP Felix Hernandez.

— Jim Street