ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The Seattle Mariners have carried three catchers on their 25-man roster all season, and 115 games in, manager Eric Wedge is still trying to find playing time for John Jaso, Jesus Montero and Miguel Olivo.
On Saturday, Olivo started his 50th game behind the plate. Jaso, the designated hitter, has started 27 games at catcher. Rookie Montero, the 22-year-old aquired from New York for Michael Pineda, has started 38 games at catcher.
Olivo is batting .207 and has a team option for 2013. Jaso is batting a team-best .283, and Montero – 11-for-28 on this trip – has pulled his season batting average to .270.
Wedge was asked for a “state of the union” on the catchers.
“Jaso has a little power, and last night we green-lighted him on a 3-0 count, and he did just what you should do, he turned around a fastball and hit it out,” Wedge said. “He has an aura of confidence behind the plate.
“Montero has progressed at catcher, but I want him to be comfortable as the DH, too. I don’t want him to hit well at catcher but not adjust to being the DH. We need his offense in both roles.
“Olivo is a veteran guy who works well with our staff and has a great arm,” Wedge said. “He’s got power.”
None are great defensive catchers. Montero is the rawest, Jaso moves well behind the plate but doesn’t have a great arm and Olivo throws well but lets too many pitches get by him.
It’s why the Mariners used their first-round draft pick this June on catcher Mike Zunino – who’s playing well in Everett. He entered Saturday hitting .356 with eight home runs in 101 at-bats.
NEW DAD GETS BREAK
Closer Tom Wilhelmsen arrived on a late afternoon flight from Seattle, having been there with wife Cassie for the birth of their first child, a daughter.
“I told him as long as he was here by the seventh or eighth inning it was OK,” deadpanned Wedge.
The baby’s name? For now, a secret.
Michael Saunders is a hitter who has made contact with the first pitch thrown to him 46 times this season, and in those 46 at-bats he has 23 hits for a .500 average – the second highest in the American League. Teammate John Jaso ranks fourth with a .481 average. In games like Friday’s 6-5 loss, when Felix Hernandez is given a five-run lead, the Mariners are now 33-2. Former Mariners pitcher Mark Langston spent a lot of time before the game in the Seattle dugout with Wedge and trainer Rick Griffin, telling stories. Langston is part-time broadcaster with Angels.
Seattle will play Angels in Anaheim, a 12:35 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Jason Vargas (12-8, 3.69 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (15-1, 2.13).firstname.lastname@example.org