Mariners notebook: McClendon says any September promotions must fill a need

Staff writerAugust 24, 2014 

Mariners Red Sox Baseball

Seattle’s Dustin Ackley (13) went 3-for-5 against the Red Sox in Boston on Sunday. Ackley hit .520 (13-for-25) against the Red Sox this season.

MICHAEL DWYER — The Associated Press

— Manager Lloyd McClendon has a simple guideline for adding players for the September stretch drive: “Guys who can help you win games.”

Rules permit rosters to expand from 25 players to 40 players on Sept. 1.

“I don’t think you venture out too much into bringing up young guys just to get them experience,” McClendon said prior to Sunday’s 8-6 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“There isn’t going to be any experience to get. You’re playing meaningful games. You want your veteran guys out there performing in high-level, high-pressure games.”

Want to project?

It’s likely the Mariners will activate veterans Michael Saunders and Corey Hart from the disabled list — though Saunders was recalled Saturday from his rehab assignment because of a viral infection.

Hart started his rehab assignment Saturday at Tacoma in his recovery from a bruised right knee. It seems likely, at this point, that Hart will remain with the Rainiers through the Sept. 1 end of their season.

The Mariners previously recalled outfielder James Jones from Tacoma to serve as a speed threat. He seems likely to return in the same capacity.

Similarly, the Mariners are likely to recall first baseman Justin Smoak because he represents a defensive upgrade over Logan Morrison and Kendrys Morales.

Outfielder Stefen Romero spent much of the season on the big-league roster and looms as a recall candidate because he’s been hot at Tacoma: .425 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 17 August games prior to Sunday.

Even contending clubs often add one or two pitchers, as a hedge to have extra arms available in blowout situations, and a third catcher.

The Mariners shuttled starter Erasmo Ramirez and lefty reliever Lucas Luetge between Tacoma and the big leagues for much of the season. Taijuan Walker is another possibility.

Adding a third catcher is tougher. Humberto Quintero is the type of veteran whom clubs prefer in that role, but he’s not on the 40-man roster — and the Mariners don’t have a vacancy.

That could be solved by shifting infielder Willie Bloomquist to the 60-day disabled list.

McClendon sees no value in promoting a young player simply to let them experience the atmosphere of a postseason chase.

“The only way you gain and it becomes valuable,” he said, “is if you’re competing. Just to sit and watch, I don’t see how that helps.”

BOSTON BLUES

Hisashi Iwakuma has no explanation for his ongoing problems against the Boston Red Sox after lasting 21/3 innings Sunday in what marked the shortest start of his career.

“If I knew,” he said, “I’d get these guys out. I’ve only faced them a couple of times. Hopefully, the next time I will get these guys out.”

Iwakuma gave up five runs and six hits after not allowing a run in his two previous starts and only four runs combined in his previous five starts over 361/3 innings.

He also hit two batters in a three-run first inning after not hitting a single batter this season in 147 previous innings. He needed 39 pitches to get through the first.

“I couldn’t find a good rhythm on the mound,” Iwakuma said. “I was able to throw some strikes but I wasn’t able to execute when I needed to and that kind of cost me today.”

None of this is new.

The previous shortest outing of Iwakuma’s career was three innings on July 9, 2013 against Boston; his shortest previous outing this season was four innings on June 25 against Boston at Safeco Field.

In all, Iwakuma has now allowed 17 earned runs and 30 hits in 15 innings against the Red Sox in four career starts. That’s a 10.20 ERA; his career ERA against everyone else is 2.61.

“I’m very thankful to my teammates,” he said. “They saved the game. They saved my game. I feel bad because I didn’t do my part. Out of respect, I have to make up for it in my next start.”

That will be Friday against Washington at Safeco Field.

SAUNDERS RECALLED

Saunders was recalled Saturday from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Tacoma after an examination confirmed a viral infection.

The move means Saunders can’t be sent back out on a rehab assignment for at least five days. He was sent home from the park Wednesday because of the illness.

Saunders, 27, was 9-for-35 in 10 games on a rehab assignment, which began Aug. 7, in his recovery from a strained left oblique, which he suffered July 10 on a swing against Minnesota.

Rehab assignments are limited to 20 days for non-pitchers.

ROTATION PLANS

McClendon isn’t planning any changes after Thursday’s open date in the schedule. If he holds to that, the cycle sets up this way prior to the season’s final open date on Sept. 11:

• Monday through Wednesday vs. Texas: Roenis Elias, James Paxton and Felix Hernandez.

• Friday through Aug. 31 vs. Washington: Chris Young, Hisashi Iwakuma and Elias.

• Sept. 1-3 at Oakland: Paxton, Hernandez, and Young.

• Sept. 4-7 at Texas: Iwakuma, Elias, Paxton and Hernandez.

• Sept. 8-10 vs. Houston: Young, Iwakuma and Elias.

SHORT HOPS

This was the Mariners’ 63rd series at Fenway Park but their first sweep in a series of at least three games. While they have three two-game sweeps at Fenway in their history, they were 0-5 prior to Sunday when they had a chance for a sweep in a series of three games or more. ... The Mariners have won 14 of their past 18 games. ... Dustin Ackley went 3-for-5 and finished the season with a .520 average against the Red Sox (13-for-25). ... The bullpen lowered its ERA to 2.38. ... First baseman Morrison returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game because of flu-like symptoms. He went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He has hits in his last eight games and is batting .367 (11-for-30) in that stretch.

LOOKING BACK

It was 24 years ago Monday — Aug. 25, 1990 — that Edgar Martinez stole home on the back end of a double steal with Ken Griffey Jr. in the seventh inning of a 6-3 victory at Kansas City.

Pete O’Brien was at the plate against Royals reliever Steve Crawford when Griffey broke for second. When catcher Bob Boone threw through to second base, Martinez stole home. It was Martinez’s only steal of the season.

He finished his 18-year career with 49 steals in 79 attempts.

ON TAP

The Mariners open a six-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. Monday at Safeco Field with the first of three games against Texas.

Lefty Elias (9-10, 4.09 ERA) will oppose Rangers right-hander Miles Mikolas (1-5, 7.48). Root Sports will televise the game.

The series concludes with games Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. The Mariners have an open date Thursday before concluding the homestand with three weekend games against Washington.

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

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