OAKLAND – Earlier in the week, Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge was talking about watching his best defensive outfield – Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and Casper Wells – play the final dozen games of the season together.
“It’s been tougher than I thought,” Wedge said Friday, laughing.
First, Saunders left the team for a few games to attend the birth of his first child. Then, in the game Thursday, Gutierrez slammed into the wall making a marvelous catch.
And had to come out of the game because of it.
On Friday, Gutierrez wasn’t available to play because of a stiff neck, but Wedge admitted he felt fortunate it wasn’t worse.
“I was a little concerned how he’d feel this morning,” Wedge said.
“I felt good, a little stiff neck, that’s all,” Gutierrez said. “My shoulder and wrist are fine. I’ll be out there (today).”
If so, Wedge said, he’d like to get Saunders and Wells in the same outfield.
“I’d like to seem them play together the rest of the way,” Wedge said. “Their arms, their range, that’s probably the best defensive alignment we can put out there.”
Saunders wasn’t the only Mariner to have a baby this season – teammates Tom Wilhelmsen and Mike Carp became first-time fathers, too.
And this winter, Shawn Kelley and Gutierrez are “expecting.”
The Wilhelmsens have always loved to travel, and when the season ends next week, they plan on a leisurely drive down the west coast and then on to Tucson, Ariz.
“We’ve made that drive before, and this time we want to hit some spots we missed, revisit some places we love,” Wilhelmsen said.
They’ll also be driving with a newborn.
Best of luck!
M’S DIG LONG BALL
The Mariners have hit home runs in 17 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in franchise history.
“We don’t have a lot of big home run hitters, but we’ve got the ability to hit for power up and down the lineup,” Wedge said. “Collectively, we’ve got power, seven or eight guys who can hit 10 or more home runs in a season.”
This season, the Mariners have seven players with at least 10 home runs, with Justin Smoak’s 19 leading the team. The others: Kyle Seager (18), Saunders (18), Jesus Montero (15), Dustin Ackley (12), Miguel Olivo (12) and John Jaso (10).
Wells has eight.
The Mariners haven’t had anyone with as many as 20 home runs in a season since 2009, when Russell Branyan hit 31 and Jose Lopez had 25.
Spell it out! Mariners are 0-5 this season vs. starting pitchers who go by their initials: New York’s CC Sabathia, Los Angeles lefty C.J. Wilson and Oakland’s A.J. Griffin, whom they lost to Friday for the second time this season. ... John Jaso’s 10th home run of the season came Thursday in his 343rd plate appearance. The first 10 home runs of his career coming into 2012? Those required 687 plate appearances.
Seattle plays Oakland in a 1:07 p.m. game that will not be televised. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Jason Vargas (14-11, 3.94 ERA) vs. Dan Straily (2-1, 3.60).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue