What do you know, James Jones is in the starting lineup against a left-hander. Jones, 25, will be making his third consecutive start, fifth of the season, as the Mariners take on the Tampa Bay Rays and LHP Cesar Ramos (1-1, 2.96 ERA) Monday night at Safeco Field.
“He’s a high-energy kid, brings a lot of intangibles to the table,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said of Jones. “Not to mention his speed and defense but he gets after it pretty good. I think he energizes the rest of the guys.”
McClendon has also really liked what he’s seen from Jones in the outfield but also talked about how he’s still learning with every game.
“He’s got to get used to the speed of the game here because balls are hit harder here,” said McClendon. “He’s making that adjustment nicely. But listen, it’s going to be a new day every time we take the field for him. Because he’s going to see teams he’s never seen before, players he’s never seen and how it comes off their bat . . . I think he’s going to be okay.”
Ramos will be making his fifth start of the season for the Rays after being pulled from the bullpen where he made four relief appearances. In those five starts, he has not gone deeper than 5.2 innings, allowing a max of five hits (vs. CHW) and max of two runs (vs. BAL) if we exclude his first start against Cincinnati.
In other news, Felix Hernandez makes his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays since he threw a perfect game against them on August 15, 2012. Hernandez is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 84 career innings (11 starts) versus the Rays.
McClendon also said he thinks Hernandez is getting back to normal after a rough stretch of four starts which included him suffering through the flu bug.
“I think that was it more than anything just from a physical standpoint that his physical strength wasn’t there,” McClendon said. “You lose nine pounds, that’s a lot of weight. And you could tell in Houston, he was really dragging. I thought his energy was better last time out and suspect that it’ll be even better tonight.”
Here is the M’s lineup:
1. James Jones (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. Mike Zunino c
9. Brad Miller (L) ss
RHP Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.73)
— Logan Morrison will travel with the team on its upcoming road trip, a 5-game, 2-city swing through Minnesota and Texas. He will do some running, participate in a simulated game or two and hopefully make his first start since hitting the 15-day disabled list nigh on a month ago.
— The left knee of Michael Saunders is still “tender” according to McClendon, may need a couple more days but is not anything that will require him to hit the disabled list.
— The rehabilitation of starters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker continues to progress. Both threw bullpen outings on Sunday and came off feeling “fine” according to the skipper. Both will progress to a bullpen Wednesday, Paxton near 40 pitches and Walker in the 30 range. The plan is for both to also travel with the team and throw simulated games, most likely over the weekend.
— Down in AAA Tacoma, reliever Stephen Pryor is pitching extremely well as he continues to work his way back from back surgery (to repair a torn lat muscle). Pryor has not allowed a run in his last seven innings and is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings with the Rainiers.