Mariners notebook: Leonys Martin hitting leadoff with Nori Aoki out
Day game after night game, a righty on the hill and one sore shin leads to a different lineup for the Mariners. Nori Aoki fouled a ball off his shin Tuesday night and gets the day off. Luis Sardinas, who never played the outfield before this spring, gets the start in left. Seth Smith is the designated hitter. Why not Smith in left?
“Luis can play everywhere, and if something happens we can slide him somewhere else on the field. It gives us more flexibility,” manager Scott Servais explained.
While Servais didn’t say it, chances are good the Mariners would like to keep Smith off his feet as much as possible as he suffered a slight groin tweak near the end of spring training. While hardly a speedster, he did look slower on the bases Tuesday night.
With Aoki out, Leonys Martin hits leadoff, where he is quite comfortable. Batting second is Kyle Seager. Servais said last weekend that he was leaning toward going with Seager in the two spot against righties. He confirmed Wednesday morning that was indeed the plan.
“It’s probably going to be that way for a while,” Servais said. “He continues to give us really good at-bats against left-handers, and against right-handers we can stack those guys together.”
While Servais was more than happy to talk about the lineup, he was not about to elaborate on the heated words he had with Rangers manager Jeff Banister after Chris Iannetta was hit by Tom Wilhelmsen Tuesday night. When asked by a Texas beat writer if the fact that the Rangers have made it clear under Banister that they are prepared to pitch inside was something that they were made more aware of, his answer was simply a firm “no.” When pressed, he didn’t offer much more.
“This is going to be a very competitive division,” he said. “You play the teams that often, I think the teams are closely matched. It’s going to be a fun season; it really is.”
Will there be carryover? With 17 games against each other at the very least, I would imagine it will be on both teams’ minds. In the Mariners’ case, it is a positive. The guys were fired up to see their skipper have their backs.
For all of the meetings and get-to-knows they had in the spring, what happened on the baseball field proved to them that this was real. A number of players mentioned that this strengthened the chemistry. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz both said that they loved the fire Servais showed. Iannetta said that these are the games that build chemistry and instill a little more toughness, something that is needed in a 162-game season.
A lot cheaper than a pool table and certainly more portable.
Leonys Martin, CF
Kyle Seager, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, RF
Adam Lind, 1B
Seth Smith, DH
Luis Sardinas, LF
Steve Clevenger, C
Ketel Marte, SS
Wade Miley, LHP
Miley, Clevenger go way back
The Miley/Clevenger battery has history. Long history. Although they grew up over 1,000 miles apart – Miley in Loranger, La. and Clevenger in Baltimore – the two played on a select team together when they were 15 years old.
“Me and Wade actually played on some scout teams growing up,” Clevenger said.
Miley believed that they played for a Virginia all-star team, but Clevenger had his geography a little bit more accurate.
“No, it was a team based out of Pennsylvania, All-Star Baseball Academy. He was kind of in the vicinity, the northeast,” Clevenger said with a laugh. “He’s from the south. A little bit bigger states down there, but he was pretty close.”
Among their teammates were Justin Upton and the late Nick Adenhart, whom Clevenger said was the standout player on the team.
“When Adenhart pitched, there were scouts everywhere,” said Clevenger, who remains in contact with Adenhart’s family. “Our first game I think there were about 1,000 scouts lined up and down the sides and behind the plate with the radar guns. It made it fun.”
• Catcher Rob Brantly cleared waivers and has been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.