Mariners notebook: Plenty of firsts against the A’s tonight in Oakland
OAKLAND, Calif. – Greetings from a somewhat improved O.co Coliseum (at least visually), where the Mariners will get their first look at the 2015 A’s later tonight. The Coliseum is now sporting two new HD big boards in the two end zones – the Dot Races no doubt have never looked so good.
Tonight marks the season debut for Taijuan Walker as well as his first start against the A’s. Last year he made two relief appearances against them, including a stellar six-inning, one-run performance after Chris Young failed to get out of a first inning. Walker will be facing a different lineup tonight as this version of the A’s bears little resemblance to what we saw last year.
Seth Smith is again not in the lineup, though I wouldn’t have expected him to be with the lefty Drew Pomeranz on the hill. He could possibly be available to pinch hit, however, as I talked to him before the game and he said that he felt much better and believed that if he came through batting practice he should be good to go.
“There is no other test,” he said. “Unless something else happens I feel fine.”
It will be interesting to see what happens when the A’s go to their pen.
In addition to Walker, Willie Bloomquist is making his season debut. Manager Lloyd McClendon feels it is important to get what he calls his regulars, which is basically everyone, into games early.
“You don’t want them to sit too long,” he said. “My feeling is all your work in spring training goes down the drain if you sit too long. You lose your timing and everything else.”
One other debut tonight is Rickie Weeks making his first start in left field. He didn’t play out there as much as I expected him to this spring and when he did, next to nothing was hit to him. The consensus is he is a good athlete and should be able to learn on the job. Go get ’em.
• McClendon said that he expects Jesus Sucre to get his first start Saturday, which makes sense with Felix pitching on Sunday.
• I interviewed Justin Ruggiano for the Mariners Clubhouse Insider Report on the pregame show and he told the story of why his Mariners debut was a bit awkward.
“I was telling Seth after the game it’s never fun to pinch hit for a guy who has got 3 extra base hits on Opening Day and in my debut I get boos,” he said with a laugh. “I get it he though, he had a great Opening Day. I think we will be used to that back and forth – be ready at any time throughout the rest of the year.”
• Via Twitter, Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto (@CurtoWorld) reports that Chris Taylor has been able to take full batting practice with the Rainiers and hopes to be cleared to play this weekend.