Mariners notebook: A surprise in right field
By Shannon Drayer
ARLINGTON, Texas – Day games after night games often produce interesting lineups, and today is no exception. In fact, there is a surprise in the lineup.
Just two days after Lloyd McClendon said that he couldn’t see putting Corey Hart in the outfield for some time, Hart is in right field. According to McClendon it was Hart’s idea to play there, as his two surgically repaired knees have fared well so far. The forearm stiffness is still an issue but it has not affected him at the plate, and Hart would like to get those consistent at-bats. Today the at-bats will come as the right fielder and we shall see what happens.
Robinson Cano is the DH. Why would you take that glove out of the field? Well it gives him a break without having to give him a day off. The preparation is a little less than it would be if he were playing in the field, and then he has the opportunity to get off his feet a bit during the game. Full days off for Cano are a rare thing – he’s missed just nine games his entire career. I would imagine we would see a few others get a day off soon. Brad Miller, Abraham Almonte and Justin Smoak have started every game along with Cano.
• The Mariners still haven’t named a starter for Sunday’s game in Miami but should do so tomorrow. Brandon Maurer and Anthony Fernandez are the only starters on the 40-man roster that are healthy, and with Fernandez starting for the Rainiers Wednesday night I would have to think that Maurer gets the call. It most likely would be a short outing for Maurer, who has thrown just 8 1/3 innings in four games for the Rainiers. He started the game Tuesday for the Rainiers and went a scheduled two innings, giving up one run on two hits with one walk and three strikeouts. He threw 49 pitches.
• If Maurer gets the start in Miami he most likely will get an at-bat, as pitchers hit in National League parks. That means we will also get to see Chris Young and Roenis Elias swing the bat. At 6-foot-10, Young should be particularly entertaining, although playing the majority of his career in the NL he has swung a bat a few times and owns a .144/.188/.199 line with one home run. Dare to dream, we could see it again.
• A little Felix appreciation here – with last night’s performance, Felix now not only leads the league in strikeouts with 39 but is second on the all-time Mariners list to Randy Johnson, who once had 41 in his first four games. Want more? Felix has not allowed a hit to an opponent with a runner in scoring position this season. Not bad.
• James Jones is with the club. He was called up yesterday but didn’t get into Dallas until 9:30 p.m., so he is at the ballpark for the first time today. He is getting a crash course on the ins and outs of traveling with a big league team. This morning he sent his bags down to the wrong bus so he didn’t have his equipment when he got to the park. Mike Zunino lent him some warmup gear, including one of the Mariners “Fat Guys Rake” T-shirts. Kyle Seager wasn’t sure Jones, who has one of the lowest body fat percentages in the organization, should be allowed to wear the shirt. His gear eventually arrived and he is available to play wearing jersey No. 99, which is the highest jersey number in club history. Mac Suzuki previously had the highest number with 96.