Another day of pitchers taking batting practice, which got pitchers and reporters talking about … well, pitchers hitting.
On Monday, for instance, Seattle Mariners pitchers Felix Hernandez and Steve Delabar hit home runs, which got Delabar talking about his softball heroics.
“In 2010, I was out of baseball and played about 50 slow-pitch softball games,” he said. “I had a ton of home runs and like 165 RBI.”
Tom Wilhelmsen played co-ed softball about the same time, and could hit a little, he said.
“Never for power, though,” he acknowledged.
Who’s the worst hitter on the staff?
“We don’t have one,” Shawn Kelley said. “Everybody makes contact.”
“Well, Blake Beavan,” Charlie Furbush said.
“Oh, yeah. Blake swung and missed a couple of times today and broke a bat once,” Kelley said.
If the Mariners were forced to use a pitcher as a pinch-hitter, who would it be?
“Kevin Millwood or Jason Vargas – they have the most experience,” Delabar said.
And which pitcher would you least like to see get an at-bat in a game?
“Me,” Hector Noesi said, then pointed at Wilhelmsen. “Or him. Me, I’m going to go up looking fastball. If I see a change-up, I’m done.”
KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
About once a week, manager Eric Wedge defends his young team, it’s up-and-down start and it’s potential.
“We’re 30 games in and people forget, we play 162 games every year,” Wedge said. “For six months, we play every day, and the other day we started a lineup that had seven players 25 or younger in it.
“They’re coming on, but it never happens on your time table, it happens on theirs. I’m telling you, I’ve got history with this – you’ve got some good players out there.”
Among them: Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Alex Liddi, Michael Saunders, Justin Smoak, Beavan and Lucas Luetge.
Those players are learning, each at his own pace, and the Mariners farm system has more coming, whether it’s hitter Vinnie Catricala or pitchers Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton or Taijuan Walker.
“I’ve worked with a lot of name players who are still playing, and most of them weren’t names when they started out. These kids are getting better in front of your eyes if you know what you’re looking for,” Wedge said.
Miguel Olivo ran, threw and took a few swings as he works toward a return from the disabled list. After straining a groin muscle against Tampa Bay last week, Olivo is progressing more quickly than expected – and Wedge said Olivo will catch bullpen sessions on the upcoming trip. … The Mariners lead the American League with nine starts in which pitchers have gone at least seven innings and allowed one run or fewer this season. Felix Hernandez has five of those. … Ackley (.239) has struggled at the plate, but in six games batting leadoff, he’s hit .318 with two doubles, a triple, five walks and three RBI. Yes, he’ll stay in that spot.
Seattle plays host to Detroit in a 7:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Detroit’s Justin Verlander (2-1, 2.38 ERA) vs. Kevin Millwood (0-3, 5.34).