The big news prior to Saturday’s game in Mariner land is the adjustment at the top of the lineup where we will see Michael Saunders making his debut at the top spot under new manager Lloyd McClendon. Abraham Almonte, who had been the M’s leadoff hitter for the all 22 games to start the season, didn’t drop far, he will hit second.
Will Saunders get an extended look there?
“No,” McClendon said. “Just followed my gut. I sat down to make out the lineup, said ‘I’m going to lead Saunders off and hit (Almonte) second’. . . I don’t worry about tomorrow, I just worry about today. . . I always said, managers don’t make out the lineups, the players do.”
But why Saunders, why Saturday’s game?
“Look, I don’t have any magic answers, I’m just searching, trying to spark the offense,” said McClendon. “I think it was the third scotch (last night).”
Here is the lineup with Felix on the hill against the Rangers’ Colby Lewis:
1. Michael Saunders (L) rf
2. Abraham Almonte (s) cf
3. Robinson Cano (L) 2b
4. Corey Hart dh
5. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
6. Justin Smoak (s) 1b
7. Dustin Ackley (L) lf
8. Mike Zunino c
9. Brad Miller (L) ss
In other news, Taijuan Walker remains scheduled to resume throwing with a five-minute catch session from about 45 feet on Monday. Walker will play catch a couple days in a row as long as he continues to feel good and then begin a throwing program.
“I start throwing Monday. I can’t wait,” Walker said. “Get going, get back up here and begin pitching again.
“Especially because I was already built up so I shouldn’t have to start over. I’ll just throw a couple, you know, long toss, bullpens and then should be ready to get back in a game. Should be,” Walker said, “Depending on how I feel.”
Mariners fans will be crossing their fingers in hopes he finally makes it to an MLB mound by late May and stays there.
Meanwhile, Hisashi Iwakuma will make his first rehab start since injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand prior to spring training. He will pitch for the Tacoma Rainers down in Las Vegas on Sunday, with a target of five innings and 80 pitches. That will leave him ready to go 6-7 innings and 95 pitches in his next start.
Will that start be for Seattle in Houston on Friday?
“We want to see a good outing, a healthy outing and we will re-assess after that,” said McClendon.
Bottom line, though, if Iwakuma looks sharp, expect to see him make his 2014 debut in Houston on Friday.