By Shannon Drayer
One of the questions I get the most is: Why haven’t we seen more of Kyle Seager this spring? Is anything wrong? Nothing is wrong. Eric Wedge handles early lineups a little differently from what I have seen with past managers. Early on he likes to get everyone in but tends to give veterans and regulars multiple days off. While he may take it easy on them early, he turns it up more later. When he starts to play guys in back-to-back games he often will keep them in those games longer. It is not uncommon to see him play regulars nine innings well before the final week of camp. Ultimately they get the same work in as in the past, but they do it at different times.
So with all that said, I had to ask Wedge today why we hadn’t seen Franklin Gutierrez in a lineup since Friday’s rainout. He told me that Franklin is healthy, and that he has just chosen to slow play him through the spring, somewhat similar to what they have done with Felix. Both players are veterans and both know what they need to do to be ready. No need to put extra innings on either of them in the spring. We should see Gutierrez in the lineup tomorrow.
As for today’s lineup:
Jason Bay getting another shot at leadoff today. I suspect had Michael Saunders not had a monster WBC we would see him hitting first in this lineup, but why not hit him fifth today and keep that mentality going.
Iwakuma is scheduled to pitch four innings, and look for him to throw his curve more. It was a pitch he would throw from time to time last year but by no means an out pitch for him. Carl Willis believes it could be used to get ahead in counts, and he is very pleased in what he has seen so far.
“This spring it has been very good, which is unusual in itself as for the most part, curveballs don’t usually work very well in Arizona,” he said.
Something new for Willis this year will be the option to take an interpreter to the mound with him when he visits Iwakuma. Baseball, for the first time, will allow that this season. Willis said that while Kuma’s English is improving, it is something he will take advantage of.
“I think there are going to be times in critical situations it is going to make a lot of sense to make sure Kuma understands,” he said. “Last year there were times where I would get the terminology from the dugout and I would go out and say it, but if he had questions, well then we were stuck. I think there are going to be situations where we will see that happen and it will be very helpful.”