Notebook: Talks led by McClendon, veterans get Mariners focused
HOUSTON – Before things got bumpy on the flight to Dallas, Lloyd McClendon took a walk to the back of the plane to talk with some of his veterans. He wouldn’t share what he said but the desired results were achieved with the three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, the first by a Mariners team in Arlington since 2002.
“The guys were talking on the plane, we (made) a plan of how we want to play with Texas,” revealed Fernando Rodney post-game Wednesday night. “That’s the thing, we have to play hard. Sometimes we come to play too easy with these guys and sometimes we try to come back too late. In this series we come to attack early and we find a lot of success.”
Rodney was referring to a talk that took place after McClendon returned to his seat at the front of the plane. For his part, McClendon was pleased to hear that his veterans stepped up. And while the conversation had a “we are going to be OK” element to it, there was also a bit of edge to the vets words.
“We need that, particularly from our veteran leadership,” said McClendon. “I won’t share what I talked to them about but I expect my veterans to step up and lead this club and I thought coming into this series they were committed to that. The spirit in the dugout was good and the play on the field was good.”
The focus of the conversation wasn’t just the Rangers, according to Rodney.
“These games in this division are very important,” he said. “Now we go to Houston and we want to go with the same approach. I know these guys are really hot right now but we want to play hard because we can beat Houston, Anaheim, and now we know we can beat Texas too.”
With the calendar about to flip to May all of a sudden it isn’t early. It isn’t just “everything is going to be OK.” McClendon appears to have turned up the intensity a notch.
“You have got to take care of business,” said Logan Morrison. “Our division is tough. There’s going to be a lot of close games so when we go to play those guys we have to make sure we get every win we can. There are going to be some nights when it’s not going to happen but that (Rangers series) was in our grasp and we were able to make plays, get the hits we needed, and now we have to do it in Houston. They have a really good team and I think a lot of people are overlooking them but I don’t think we are at all.”
• The roof is open at Minute Maid Park and both teams put on quite the power display in batting practice. Nelson Cruz hit two completely over the train tracks and out of the ballpark, while Evan Gattis hit one about 30 feet higher that hit a banner and bounced back in. I also saw Brad Miller hit the third deck in right twice. Could be a fun one if you are not a pitcher.
• Rodney has pitched the last four nights and picked up three saves against the Rangers. He most likely is down for the night. No word on who will close if needed.
• Why are the Astros so much better this season? Logan Morrison has some thoughts on the matter.
“They definitely upgraded their bullpen from last year,” he said. “I remember last year getting into there and, “Cool, we got the bullpen, let’s get them.’ This year it is not so much that way. We want to be able to get out ahead of them. They’ve got some boppers in the lineup, they’re going to strikeout a lot but they are going to hit some homers. You got to keep guys off base, make the plays, and if they hit homers hopefully they are solo shots and we’ve got some runs on the board.”