Lineup, a surprise scratch and a new leadoff hitter?

Mar 4, 2013, 8:41 AM | Updated: 9:41 am

By Shannon Drayer

The Mariners host the Rockies today in a game that can be seen on ROOT Sports at noon. We already have a scratch in the lineup, the pitching lineup, as Danny Hultzen, who was scheduled to pitch today after Jon Garland, was scratched with a mild right hip flexor strain. He is expected to miss a week.

As for the lineup …

Gutierrez 8
Seager 5
Ibanez DH
Smoak 3
Wells 9
Thames 7
Shoppach 2
Andino 4
Triunfel 6

Walker, Luetge, Pryor, Nunez, Wilhelmsen and Capps are all scheduled to follow Garland.

Looking at the lineup we see again that Franklin Gutierrez is leading off. We have seen quite a bit of this but never with Dustin Ackley in the same lineup. I asked Eric Wedge after Saturday’s game about Gutierrez’s versatility and where he could see him in the lineup.

“We have been messing around with him up top a bit and we will see how it plays out,” he said. “I think the good thing about this year is we will have more options, whether it be at the top of our lineup up or the middle of the order.”

In other words, yes. He is getting a look as the leadoff hitter. The question is, why? Would he like a righty at the top and would he follow with Ackley or would Wedge prefer to drop Ackley in the lineup to perhaps take some of the pressure off? He is doing that with veterans in the middle of the order so why not at the top as well. Something to watch.

Also something to watch in the outfield, with Michael Saunders having left for the WBC, Jason Bay, Casper Wells, Eric Thames and Carlos Peguerro should get more looks in the outfield. If the last spot does come down to Bay and Wells, Bay is off to a good start with four hits, four walks and one strikeout in eight at-bats while Wells, who got off to a hot start, has stumbled with two hits, six strikeouts and no walks in 18 at-bats.

One last note: “The Cactus League Report” can be heard on 710 ESPN at 7. Guests scheduled to appear are Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Mike Zunino, Casper Wells, Stephen Pryor and Larry Stone.

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Lineup, a surprise scratch and a new leadoff hitter?