After taking game one of the four-game series with the Kansas City Royals, the Mariners will see a familiar face opposing them Friday night as they go up against Jason Vargas, a second straight lefty. The only change in the Mariners’ lineup is the addition of Dustin Ackley who will be playing left field in the place of Cole Gillespie who received two consecutive starts.
James Jones remains on the bench despite a good start to his pro career. Even though he said he isn’t trying to shield Jones from lefties, the 6-foot, 5-inch outfielder has yet to make a start against one. The Mariners face two righties to conclude their series with the Royals and then see two more lefties to start their series against the Rays (Cesar Ramos and David Price). We’ll see if Jones gets a start either Monday or Tuesday against one of them. It is apparent, though, that M’s manager Lloyd McClendon likes running Stefen Romero out against a left-hander every chance he gets. And with Michael Saunders doing a very good job thus far in the leadoff spot, starts against left-handers could be few and far between for Jones.
Here is the lineup for Seattle against Vargas Friday night:
1. Michael Saunders (L) cf
2. Stefen Romero rf
3. Robinson Cano (L) 2b
4. Corey Hart dh
5. Justin Smoak (s) 1b
6. Kyle Seager (L) 3b
7. Dustin Ackley (L) lf
8. Brad Miller (L) ss
9. Mike Zunino c
McClendon was asked about right-handed relief pitcher Stephen Pryor who is currently pitching for AAA Tacoma. Pryor has been with Tacoma for nearly a month and has been making very good progress as he attempts to work his way back to the big leagues after having surgery to replace a torn lat muscle late last season.
“He’s throwing, he’s on a regular program now. He’s getting better,” McClendon said. “He needs to pitch well to get back to where he was. I mean there’s no guarantee that he’s going to be here. You say he’s healthy, doesn’t mean he’s going to be here in the big leagues.”
Any timetable for his return then?
“No, just pitch, pitch well and see what happens,” McClendon said. “He’s at a point now physically where he’s on a regular schedule, but he’s got to prove that he can do the grind, too.”
The Mariners are running Brandon Maurer (1-0, 6.92) out there against the Royals tonight for his fourth start. While McClendon thinks Maurer has improved, he doesn’t seem to think Maurer has a firm hold on the spot.
“I’ve seen him get better every time out,” McClendon said. “You know, he’s a work in progress. He has a lot of talent, he has a lot of weapons, he just needs to get to the point where he can harness it all. Some outings are better than others and I think the encouraging thing about him is that he continues to get better every time out.”