McClendon explains right-handed heavy lineup
With Tigers southpaw Drew Smyly on the hill Saturday, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon trotted out every available right-handed batter on his club to combat a pitcher with a distinct left-right split in his career.
Left-handed hitters have batted just .122 (5-for-41) against Smyly this season compared to .286 (36-for-126) for right-handers. In his three-year Major League career, the split is .194 for lefties and .260 for right-handers.
With All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano already sidelined by a bruised hand on Cano Bobblehead Night for the 7:10 p.m. game at Safeco Field, McClendon opted for even more of a right-handed presence than normal as he started Willie Bloomquist in Cano’s place at second, put Mike Zunino at designated hitter instead of getting a day off with John Buck behind the plate, and had both his right-handed hitting outfielders – Stefen Romero and Cole Gillespie – in the lineup while sitting lefties Michael Saunders, James Jones and Dustin Ackley.
McClendon, who was the hitting coach at Detroit the past seven seasons, felt that was the best approach against Smyly.
“I know Smyle’s pretty good,” McClendon said. “He’s tough on left-handers. This year they’re hitting .122 off him. That’s hard to ignore. I’m just trying to put as many right-handers in there as we can and hopefully we’re successful with it.”
As for the left-handed Chavez in center instead of the rookie Jones?
“Just to give Jones a break,” McClendon said. “He’s been grinding it pretty tough. And I think Endy probably more equipped to handle a guy like this.”
Here’s the full lineups: