The game is going to start in about 20 minutes, and I haven't gotten to post any of the pregame stuff from the meeting with Don Wakamatsu, particularly about Felix Hernandez and Jose Lopez.
Let's get to my buddy, Jose Lopez, first.
Obviously, I said last night that he should be benched for today's game. But he's in the lineup hitting cleanup and playing third - which is almost the polar opposite of being benched.
Wakamatsu was asked what it would take for him to bench a player to prove a point.
"I think every manager wants to have that luxury, but when you have a two-man bench, it’s a little harder to do that," he said.
Indeed, Rob Johnson, Russell Branyan and Michael Saunders are all basically unavailable, leaving Josh Wilson and Ryan Langerhans as the reserves.
Wakamatsu offered a few more thoughts on the Lopez baserunning mistake. (watch at your own heath risk)
“I said last night, there’s no excuses for a lot of this stuff. These are veteran players. A lot of these guys have played a lot of games. I defend it maybe in a different light because I see it from the dugout here and understand what’s going on when you don’t score [a run in 27 innings]. That doesn’t make it any more justified. We have to get better and make better decisions, and that’s the bottom line.”
Did he talk to Lopez specifically about it?
“I didn’t talk to [Lopez] about it," he said. "You hear veteran players—Jack Wilson last night talked about a mistake he made and why he didn’t challenge that flyball to center field. That’s what you want to hear, and learn from it. That’s all we care about, is if we make a mistake that it doesn’t happen a second time. To hear veteran players say, ‘You know what? I messed up on that,’ or ‘This is the reason I was a little bit more careful because the baserunning has been so poor,’ as a manger you think you’re getting through to them. We talk about every scenario. In our advance meetings, we’ll talk about what happened in all three or four games of the series prior to it so it doesn’t happen again. You get out there on the bases, and there are certain plays that will happen that are a little funky. I said it last night, we made a couple of mistakes, but everything goes away with a win. When you lose, those things are magnified, and justifiably.”
Wakamatsu was also asked about Felix Hernandez's reaction to coming out of the game last night. Felix was not pleased at all.
“I don’t know,” Hernandez said. “Talk to Wak, or talk to somebody else. I was going to go out (for the ninth).’
So we did talk to Wak, who wasn't surprised at Felix's reaction or his comments.
“We talked about the necessity of cutting him back (before the game)," Wakamatsu said. "He wasn’t happy with it then and he wasn’t happy with it last night, and I don’t blame him. He wants to win every game. He goes out to complete every game. That’s why he’s so special. I know he was upset last night, and again I think it’s justified in this case. But we also have to take into consideration what’s best for him.”
And he had no problem with Felix outing his feelings to the media?
“To be with Felix over the last year and a half, watch him grow, to watch him go to the All-Star Game and be with his family and watch what he’s accomplished, I have the utmost respect for him and what he does every day going out to compete," Wakamatsu said. "His emotions are strictly because he wants to win, and as a manager, that’s a great thing.”
But regardless of Felix's emotions, Wakamatsu isn't about to allow him to rack up massive innings and pitches. He's not managing for wins and his job, he's managing for what is best for the organization.
And it isn't easy to do in his situation.
“If that’s a 1-0 ballgame at that point," Wakamatsu said. "I’m probably going to leave him out there to get the win at that point. It’s never easy. The fans come here every day to see us win ballgames. Whether it’s the (Edwin)Jackson issue—those things are in the back of your mind—or whether as a manager you’re someone who hurts a player, that’s something you’re always cognizant of.”
“I think you have to evaluate what that pitcher is to the organization. Felix is signed long term here."