Seattle begins an important three game series against the Texas Rangers, April or not. Texas sits atop the AL West standings after it swept Oakland in three games. The Mariners on the other hand, have lost 10 of their last 12 games and hope to carry over the exhilaration it felt when Kyle Seager hit a 3-run walkoff home run against Houston on Wednesday. Here are the lineups, followed by some news and notes:
1. Abraham Almonte (s) cf
2. Willie Bloomquist ss
3. Robinson Cano (L) 2b
4. Corey Hart dh
5. Stefen Romero rf
6. Justin Smoak (s) 1b
7. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
8. Cole Gillespie lf
9. Mike Zunino c
1. Michael Choice lf
2. Elvis Andrus ss
3. Adrian Beltre 3b
4. Prince Fielder (L) 1b
5. Alex Rios rf
6. Donnie Murphy dh
7. J.P. Arencibia c
8. Loenys Martin (L) cf
9. Josh Wilson 2b
As you can see, the Mariners are throwing out a pretty right-hand dominant lineup to face Rangers’ LHP Robbie Ross who shut them out 5-0 back on April 15, allowing just five hits over 7.2 innings. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon hopes to see an improved approach against Ross from his hitters this time out.
Meanwhile, after being called up from AAA Tacoma on Thursday, outfielder Cole Gillespie will make his debut as a Mariner tonight. McClendon said the decision to add Gillespie while demoting Nick Franklin (over adding another hot-hitting AAA OF like James Jones) was about getting a right-handed bat that doesn’t necessarily need to play every day.
“We tried to balance the lineup out a little bit,” McClendon said. “He has been swinging the bat really well down there, hopefully that continues up here.”
Gillespie, 29, played well in spring training and continued to do so with the Tacoma Rainiers after he was left off of the Opening Day roster. Gillespie was batting .362 (21-for-58) with 11 extra base hits (five homers) and 14 RBI in 16 games. He said he was disappointed to be left off the roster to open the year, but just tried to stay focused on the task at hand while with the Rainiers.
“It was a little frustrating at first, especially being with the team till a couple of weeks left in spring and going down…but I was fortunate to swing a hot bat,” Gillespie said. “I felt this would be a good spot for me. When I signed, their roster was pretty left-hand oriented…The only thing I could do was go down there and continue to put up some numbers and open up some eyes.”
Well that’s what he did. He’s worked hard and played well, but certainly has an opportunity because he has a right-handed bat.
— Mariners’ lefty James Paxton played catch from 45 feet for five minutes, Friday afternoon and said he “had no pain and felt strong.” The team will see how he feels tomorrow. If all is well he’ll play catch again, progressing to 60 feet for another five minutes. After that is completed, a throwing program will be designed. Paxton said the team wants to be cautious with him, but also doesn’t want to baby him considering the severity of the injury was minor and he feels very strong.
— The Mariners recalled left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge to fill the roster spot vacated by the demotion of Erasmo Ramirez to High Desert. He will be in uniform for Friday night’s game.
— Taijuan Walker is still slated to play catch Monday. Walker will seemingly be on the same schedule as Paxton to start.