Mariners notebook: Jackson returns to his usual place in M’s lineup

May 26, 2015, 4:07 PM | Updated: 8:11 pm
Austin Jackson has returned from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a sprained ankle. (...
Austin Jackson has returned from the 15-day disabled list after recovering from a sprained ankle. (AP)
(AP)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A rolled ankle cost Austin Jackson 19 games. For Lloyd McClendon, that meant finding a leadoff hitter and center fielder for each of those 19 games. With Jackson back with the team here in Florida, though, McClendon said there was no mulling over who would be at the top of the order today.

“He’s still my center fielder/leadoff,” McClendon said in his pregame meeting with the media. “I just want him to be the player he is. I mean we are playing pretty good baseball now. Stabilize the top of our order, get on base and score runs.”

After putting his ankle through several tests and games, Jackson feels ready to do that.

“The ankle feels good,” he said. “The first couple of games was really just trying to test it out to see if I could put pressure on it. It kind of was sore, gave me some problems but I was able to play through it.”

Playing through it was the biggest hurdle.

“I think a big thing is really mentally getting your mindset on if you can make those cuts you used to,” he said. “It’s kind of tough any time you roll your ankle. Your body is telling you, ‘Hey, don’t go full speed yet.’ The last couple of games, being able to be put in some positions that I normally would be put in, and it felt good. I was happy about it. It feels normal.”

What will be a little different for Jackson is the man playing next to him left – former shortstop Brad Miller. He’s not worried about Miller’s inexperience in the outfield, though.

“Just watching Brad, he’s pretty athletic,” he said. “I think he’s a good enough athlete to adjust to the outfield. It’s not always the easiest transition, but I think when you look at him and his athleticism, I think it won’t be a problem at all to adjust to that.”

Notes

• Welington Castillo is in the lineup for the second time in the last three days. Before the team flew to Tampa, McClendon said that Mike Zunino would catch two of the three games here. Having him sit today means he will catch Felix Hernandez in the series finale.

Good to see Zunino get the extra rest with Castillo now with the team. It appears to be paying off; in the eight games Zunino has played after a day off he is hitting .308 with four home runs.

• With the six-man bullpen the Mariners are taking no chances with their starters. The team will fly home after Wedneday’s game and then play a game at Safeco Field Thursday. The starter for that game, James Paxton, flew back to Seattle today to give him an extra day after flying cross country before he pitches.

• The team announced today that Danny Hultzen has been placed on the 15-day disabled list after experiencing some shoulder fatigue last week. He was checked out by team doctors and all tests came back clean. The Mariners had planned on giving him extra rest periodically as they would like to see him pitch the full season. Hultzen had pitched three games for Double-A Jackson but also had made a number of starts in extended spring training.

• Ken Griffey, Jr. stopped by the clubhouse today – we usually see Junior when we are here. It was good to see Justin Ruggiano take advantage of a great resource, as he approached Griffey in the dugout before batting practice and asked if he could help him with his swing. Griffey spent about 15 minutes working with him.

Former GM Woody Woodward was also here. He was greeted warmly by Griffey, who then had his son Trey come say hello to him. Woodward smiled as he shook his hand and reminded him that he could be a Mariner at any time.

When Trey, who is now a wide receiver at the University of Arizona, was born, Woodward gave Griffey a signed Major League contract for him. Griffey framed the contract and it hangs in Trey’s bedroom in his house.

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