Seager’s hitting woes solved in Texas?

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.comApril 15, 2014 

ARLINGTON, Texas — The consensus, at least among the Seattle Mariners, seems to be that Kyle Seager is going to shake this slump at some point. The only question is when.

“I told him the biggest thing he needs to do is get out of the way of his talent,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Let his talent take over. Sometimes, we can outthink ourselves.

“Listen, he’s got a nice track record. I think we all would agree he’s going to hit; he’s going to produce. The sooner the better.”

History suggests a trip to the Metroplex might be exactly what Seager needs after opening the season with just four hits in 33 at-bats.

He is a .374 hitter in 24 games at what is now known as Globe Life Park.

“I think a lot of left-handed hitters would agree (it’s a good hitters’ park),” Seager said before Monday’s game against Texas. “It’s a good park to hit in. The infield last year was a little faster. So it’s a good place to swing.”

On cue, Seager delivered two hits in four at-bats in Monday’s 7-1 victory over the Rangers.

“I actually feel pretty good,” Seager said. “I’m a little bit off on a couple of pitches, but I’m seeing the ball well. It could turn around real quickly.

“I think I got out of my swing a little bit. I was overstriding a little bit. I kind of lost my angle a little bit there. But I feel better now, and I’m seeing the ball well. Just go from there.”

Seager now owns a 15-game hitting streak here, which is longest by any opponent since Jose Lopez also had a 15-game run for the Mariners from July 25, 2007 to Sept. 3, 2008.

MORRISON AILING

Right fielder Logan Morrison was pulled from Monday’s game before taking the field in the first inning when his right hamstring suddenly tightened up.

“Just out of the blue,” he said. “It (stinks), but we decided to be precautionary. Not test it and blow it out. Get treatment and see where we’re at (Tuesday). Go from there.”

Michael Saunders replaced Morrison and went 2-for-5, including an RBI triple that fueled a six-run sixth inning.

IWAKUMA’S TIMETABLE

Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma continues his comeback Tuesday with a 55-pitch bullpen session that should include some split-finger fastballs.

That is Iwakuma’s signature pitch, and throwing it from a mound should provide one of the final tests in his recovery from a strained ligament in his middle finger.

If all goes well, Iwakuma will throw a 45-pitch simulated game Saturday in Miami in preparation for his minor league rehab assignment.

Tentative plans call for Iwakuma to be assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Iwakuma, 33, was an All-Star in 2013, when he went 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 33 starts. He finished third in the Cy Young award balloting.

BEAVAN’S RETURN

Right-hander Blake Beavan joined the traveling party before Monday’s game and will be recalled officially from Tacoma prior to his scheduled start Tuesday against the Rangers.

The Mariners must make a corresponding roster move at that time.

Beavan, 25, failed to win a spot in the rotation in spring training but got the call to replace injured James Paxton after opening the season with two strong starts at Tacoma.

“When I went to Tacoma,” Beavan said, “I just told myself, ‘Don’t get upset that you’re here. Just take it as an opportunity to prove and show that you can help when the phone call (comes).’

“That was my whole plan when I went down to Tacoma, that I’m just going to take advantage of my opportunity here, do as well as I can here, and not worry about stuff at the next level that I can’t control. Pretty much just show these guys that I am capable and ready to step in if need be at this level.”

Beavan was 16-19 with a 4.61 ERA in 53 big-league games, including 43 starts, for the Mariners from 2011-13.

BROADCAST CHANGE-UP

Former Mariner Mark McLemore is joining the Mariners’ broadcast team in Texas as a temporary replacement for Dave Sims, who will resume his duties for the weekend series at Miami.

Rick Rizzs and Mike Blowers handled the Root telecast on Monday and will do so again Tuesday, while Aaron Goldsmith and McLemore worked radio duty.

It will be Goldsmith and Blowers on Root for the final two games Wednesday and Thursday; Rizzs and McLemore will do the radio.

McLemore played for the Mariners from 2000-03 near the end of a 19-year career.

WALKER’S NEXT STOP

Right-hander Taijuan Walker makes his third rehab start for three different clubs in 14 days Tuesday when Triple-A Tacoma plays Salt Lake (Angels) in the opener of the Rainiers’ eight-game homestand at Cheney Stadium.

Walker, 21, is recovering from a sore shoulder that surfaced in spring training and forced a one-week shutdown from all throwing in early March.

Minor league rehab assignments can last a maximum of 30 days for pitchers. (Non-pitchers are limited to 20 days.)

Walker began his rehab tour on April 4 at High-A High Desert, where he allowed one earned run and four hits in 4 innings against Inland Empire (Angels) while striking out seven and walking one.

Next came a five-inning stint on April 9 at Double-A Jackson, where he worked five scoreless innings against Mississippi (Braves) while yielding three hits, striking out 10 and walking one.

LOOKING BACK

It was 18 years ago Tuesday — April 15, 1996 — that the Mariners staged the biggest comeback victory in franchise history. They rallied for an 11-10 victory over the Angels at the Kingdome after trailing 9-1 in the fourth inning.

Shortstop Alex Rodriguez, batting ninth in his first full season, fueled the comeback with two home runs.

SHORT HOPS

Reliever Tom Wilhemsen is available again for duty after being slowed over the weekend by tightness in his back. ... McClendon shook up his lineup by dropping first baseman Justin Smoak to seventh in the order. Smoak batted fourth for the first 10 games and dropped Sunday to fifth. McClendon said: “We got shut out (Sunday) and scored one run two days ago. Just trying to shake it up a little bit.” ... McClendon also said Corey Hart, as long planned, will likely serve as the club’s primary cleanup hitter for now. But McClendon said, “I don’t think we’re anywhere close” to seeing Hart in right field.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rangers continue their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. (PDT) Tuesday. Right-hander Blake Beavan (season debut) will start against Texas lefty Robbie Ross (0-0 and 1.74).

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

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