Mariners notebook: With the team struggling, changes are made
ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Mariners have officially announced the following moves:
• Chris Taylor, recalled from AAA Tacoma
• Joe Beimel, selected from AAA Tacoma
• Austin Jackson, placed on 15-day DL
• Mike Kickham, designated for assignment
• Mark Lowe, selected from AAA Tacoma
• Julio Morban, placed on the restricted list
Taylor goes right into the lineup tonight hitting ninth and playing shortstop, and while Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was rather noncommittal on how much he would play (he answered every question with “he’ll play some shortstop”), what followed would seem to indicate that he is here to play a good deal.
“I think any time you have played the way we have to this point there are changes that need to be made on several different fronts,” McClendon answered when asked why Taylor was called up. “And we felt that he would give us a shot in the arm and hopefully that is the case.”
While Brad Miller has been one of the Mariners better hitters of late, his defense and baserunning have been inconsistent. McClendon said that Miller would play some shortstop and without elaborating said he could play other positions, as well.
“He’s not the forgotten man. He’s certainly not the culprit in all of this either,” McClendon said. “I’ve got to manage better, our coaches have got to coach better, our players have got to play better.”
As for the additions of Beimel, McClendon likes what he brings with both his arm and history.
“Obviously he provides a lot of leadership in the bullpen,” he said. “He knows what he is doing. He’s a veteran. He was very influential in what we accomplished last year. It’s nice to have him back there.”
Lowe was a late add, arriving two hours before game time. Like Beimel he brings veteran presence and experience. I spoke with pitching coach Rick Waits over the weekend about Lowe and he said the word was he was pitching very well for Tacoma. His numbers would indicate that as he has given up one run in nine innings while striking out 11.
Cruz named Player of the Month
As expected Nelson Cruz has been named American League Player of the Month. Cruz hit .322 with three doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in the month of April. This is his first Player of the Month Award and he becomes the first Mariners position player to win the award since Ichiro took it in August of 2004.
“It’s special,” he said. “With so many great players in the league. I’ve been blessed. God blessed me with the health. That is the most important thing.”
After going 1 for 15 to start his Mariners career, Cruz took off, hitting .375 with a 1.219 OPS for the rest of the month. It took four games for him to hit his stride.
“To be able to stay with my routine, to be consistent, I think early experience and age have helped me to be more consistent than in the past,” he said.
On the season Cruz is hitting .343/.387/.788/.1.175.
Felix Hernandez close to record
In his last start Felix took over first place in innings pitched in Mariners history, and he enters today’s game just two strikeouts shy of the record for a Venezuelan-born pitcher, which is currently held by Johan Santana (1,988).
Felix is also 13 strikeouts shy of 2000. Could be a big night for the King.