Results tagged ‘ Justin Smoak ’
Manager Eric Wedge posted his first lineup card this morning in the Mariners clubhouse. And the most interesting thing to me is the guy in the No. 4 spot … young Justin Smoak batting cleanup right out of the gate.
It’s clear that Smoak is needed this season to hit in the middle of the lineup, but Wedge has said he’s reluctant to say he’ll throw the 24-year-old in there from the start. He talked specifically about that in this story I wrote previewing today’s opener here on Mariners.com.
Of course, the charity spring game lineup isn’t the same as the regular-season opener, but obviously Wedge wants to see what the big first baseman can do.
He also wants to get a good look at Milton Bradley in the heart of the order. Bradley will DH today and bat third. If Bradley hits well this spring, he’ll earn a spot on this team without question because the Mariners would like to get something out of his $12 million contract and could certainly use his bat as well if he returns to his old form.
Worth noting as well, no Franklin Gutierrez in the lineup today, which puts Michael Saunders in CF.
Game time is 12:05 p.m. PT (1:05 p.m. in Arizona), with Rick Rizzs and Dave Sims calling the action on 710 ESPN Seattle. And while forecasts called for rain and cool temperatures today, the bad weather appeared to blow through last night and as of this morning it’s sunny and blue skies everywhere.
Here’s the full lineup:
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chone Figgins 3B
Milton Bradley DH
Justin Smoak 1B
Adam Kennedy 2B
Miguel Olivo C
Michael Saunders CF
Gabe Gross LF
Jack Wilson SS
Erik Bedard LHP
Not surprisingly on the day when Mariners pitchers and catchers reported to work, most of the talk Sunday in Peoria focused on, you guessed it, pitching. But there are a few position players in camp early and all seem eager to put last year in the rearview mirror.
As first baseman Justin Smoak said: “There’s probably not a team out there that wants to get started sooner than we do to get last year behind us.”
Fair enough. I think everyone from fans to media to the Peanut Man are more than willing to forget about last season. So let’s focus on the here and now with some initial observations on Sunday’s activities from Mariners camp:
Wilson said he’s feeling great and has been working at his home outside Los Angeles with new infielder Brendan Ryan, who he called after Ryan was acquired by trade from St. Louis and was pleasantly surprised when he saw they shared the same area code.
Turns out Ryan lives about 25 miles away, so the two have been working together on double-play situations in Wilson’s backyard diamond, taking ground balls from Wilson’s brother and another friend.
Ironically, Ryan might eventually wind up competing with Wilson for the shortstop duties once Ackley arrives at second base, but that hasn’t stopped their budding friendship.
Willis, 50, spent nine seasons in the Major Leagues as a reliever and was part of the World Series champion Twins bullpen in ’91.
No argument there, though it’ll be interesting to see who steps up in that role. Brandon League had six saves last season while Aardsma was out, giving him eight in his seven-year Major League career.
Chris Ray, a non-roster invitee, has 61 career saves … but only two since undergoing Tommy John surgery while with the Orioles in ’07.
The other candidate mentioned by Willis is former Red Sox setup man Manny Delcarmen, who saved three games in six seasons in Boston.
Clearly, though, Jack Zduriencik’s plan is to bring in as many options as possible on no-risk Minor League deals and see who sticks, which will make for an interesting camp. I still think hard-throwing Dan Cortes and Josh Lueke could develop into the best late-inning options, but Willis wants to lower expectations on those youngsters as well as rookie starter Michael Pineda at this point, which is wise.