KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John Jaso is a man who knows his strengths while remaining aware of his weaknesses.
When the Seattle Mariners faced five consecutive left-handed starting pitchers, Jaso was not surprised to be on the bench against most of them – he had gone 1-for-21 facing lefties this season. A year ago, he was 5-for-31 against them.
When he started Thursday against Kansas City Royals left-hander Will Smith, just up from Triple-A Omaha, Jaso legged out an infield single in the sixth inning.
“That’s two hits against lefties,” Jaso said. “Good! Progress is being made!”
THAT’S 41 CELSIUS
Outfielder Michael Saunders was born and raised in Victoria, B.C., where temperatures never approached the 106 degrees during the game in Kansas City on Thursday.
“I didn’t know there was heat like this growing up,” Saunders said. “The other night, I needed two batting gloves during the game because the first soaked through under my fielding glove.”
The Mariners aren’t used to it, either.
Thursday’s game was the 18th time in franchise history the Mariners had started a game with triple-digit temperatures (not counting retractable-roof stadiums).
Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez isn’t ready to begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment following his June 28 concussion, and accompanied the Mariners to Tampa, Fla.
“He’s going to come with us so we can monitor his work and his progress,” manager Eric Wedge said.
Though he’s taken batting practice and shagged fly balls this week in Kansas City, Gutierrez continued to battle headaches. Saturday will be three weeks since he was hit behind the left ear by an errant pickoff throw.
Jaso got a triple and an RBI added to his season statistics Thursday for a July 7 game in Oakland.
After review, Major League Baseball determined Jaso’s hit against the Athletics – originally ruled a single and two-base error – should be ruled a triple with no error, which also added an RBI to Jaso’s total.
For those keeping track at home, Jaso now has two triples and 24 RBI in 2012.
Felix Hernandez leads the major league in strikeouts (143), the first Seattle pitcher to do so since Randy Johnson in 1995. … Rookie catcher Jesus Montero and veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood had a handful of conferences on the mound Wednesday, trying to get on the same page. Millwood calls his own game, and Montero had trouble determining some pitches. “It’s a learning experience for Jesus, and it’s good for him,” Wedge said. “He’s handled it well.” … Erasmo Ramirez (elbow strain) threw a bullpen session Thursday and will throw a simulated game this weekend in Tampa. … Over his past 40 games, a span of 151 at-bats, Saunders is batting .295. … Add Felix: He has eight wins this season, but his 26th start was the 12th time he had gone at least seven innings while allowing one run or fewer.
Seattle plays at Tampa Bay in a 4:10 p.m. (PDT) game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2, 5.13 ERA) vs. James Shields (8-6, 4.41).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue