Austin Jackson Nearing A Return? [Mariners Notebook 5-13-15]

Mariners outfielder Austin Jackson ran the bases and took part in batting practice in full uniform Tuesday. It was the second time in the last three days Jackson has run with cleats on since injuring his ankle running to first base May 3 in Houston. Jackson turned his ankle on the corner of the bag and was subsequently placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right ankle.

While Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon thought his center fielder looked good swinging the bat Tuesday, he termed Jackson’s running as “so-so.”

“Just so-so. He wasn’t great,” said McClendon during his pre-game session with reporters Wednesday afternoon. “The running part was a tick below-average, but it’s the first time he’s been out.

“I guess the cutting action, the stop-and-go, if he had to go out there right now he wouldn’t be able to do that. It’s going to be more controlled right now before we send him out on a rehab (stint).”

Jackson is eligible to come off the disabled list on May 19 when Seattle begins a three-game series in Baltimore against the Orioles. Ideally, the club would like to send him down to Class AAA Tacoma for a two-three day rehab assignment prior to activating him. Would Jackson be able to do that by Saturday?

“That’s our hope,” McClendon said. “We’ll see how he progresses in the next few days.”

McClendon Hopes To Get Danny Farquhar “Straightened Out”

Once a constant, Mariners reliever Danny Farquhar is suddenly enduring some unfamiliar struggles in the early portion of the 2015 season. As of Wednesday, McClendon had no intentions of sending down one of his most “important” relievers.

“I’m a little concerned about it. I’m going to sit down and talk about it (Wednesday),” said McClendon after the game Tuesday night. “He’s such an important piece for us because there’s so many things that he can do. He can pitch in a lot of different situations, so we’ve got to get him straightened out. Something’s not right there.”

Over his last nine outings, Farquhar has pitched three “clean” innings where he has not yielded a hit or earned run. In the other six, Farquhar has failed to complete a full inning twice, including Tuesday’s appearance versus the Padres. Farquhar has an 8.31 ERA in 8.2 innings in his last nine appearances. Last season, the 5-foot-9 right-hander pitched to a 2.66 ERA in 66 appearances. He had a 1.13 WHIP and a .223 opponent’s average in 71 innings pitched.

He hasn’t been the same pitcher in ’15. Tuesday, Farquhar entered in a 7-0 game in the top of the seventh inning. After getting Cory Spangenburg to line out to second, Farquhar yielded a hit to Clint Barmes and then consecutive walks to Abraham Almonte and Derek Norris to load the bases. McClendon then lifted him for Tom Wilhelmsen.

When asked what has gone wrong for him lately, Farquhar seemed at a loss to explain his recent command issues. What adjustments does he need to make?

“Maybe a little less thinking, maybe a little more free and easy I think is my next approach,” said Farquhar. “Just kind of let things, let it go. Don’t worry about anything.”

Is it any one pitch that is causing him frustration?

“I would say my cutter is not where I want it to be. The last couple of years, I can locate my cutter in, out, up, down — do whatever I want with it,” Farquhar said. “Right now, it’s not pinpoint. I think that’s definitely a starting point. That’s my bread and butter pitch. Once I get that going, I think I’ll be rolling.”

So what does it take to find it again?

“I think just (to) stop making it move,” said Farquhar. “Just be free and easy with it.”

Wednesday, McClendon noted he will continue to run Farquhar out there, saying the only way to get him “straight” is to have him pitch. Thankfully, his struggles haven’t forced McClendon to change how he manages the bullpen in late-game situations, only that it has limited “our flexibility a little bit.”

“I think the biggest thing I can do is get him back out there. Let him pitch. It’s hard to straighten it out not pitching,” said McClendon. “Obviously, you’d like to have it a lower-leverage situation right now, but if the matchup called for it, I wouldn’t be afraid to put him out there late in a game.

“He’s just been inconsistent right now.”


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