SEATTLE — That platoon approach the Mariners are planning this season went partially on the shelf Wednesday when manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed right fielder Seth Smith is battling tightness in his groin muscle.
Smith apparently suffered the ailment Monday while going 3-for-3 in a 4-1 victory over the Angels in the season opener. The tightness was deemed sufficiently severe that he wasn’t available to pinch-hit in Tuesday’s loss.
“I woke up (Tuesday) morning,” Smith said, “and it was tight. I’ve had this before and, usually, I feel it when it happens. But I didn’t feel it when it happened. I woke up, got here (to the clubhouse) and wasn’t moving well.”
McClendon said Smith could “probably” be used Wednesday “in a pinch,” but it appears more likely that Smith won’t play before Saturday — when the Mariners are next scheduled to face a right-handed starter.
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The Mariners have an open date Thursday and face a lefty, Drew Pomeranz, in Friday’s series opener against the Athletics in Oakland. Righty Sonny Gray is scheduled to start Saturday’s game.
“We’ll see how fast I can get back,” Smith said. “It’s not a big deal, but it’s something that you’ve got to take care of. If you take care of it, it goes away really fast.”
Smith’s injury caused some lineup juggling for Wednesday’s series finale against the Angels.
Designated hitter Nelson Cruz played right field for a second straight game, while Rickie Weeks again served as the DH. Left fielder Dustin Ackley replaced Smith as the No. 2 hitter in the lineup.
McClendon said often in the past that he prefers Ackley to bat eighth in the lineup but, “I didn’t want to have all of those lefties stacked at the bottom. It just creates a little better balance.”
Shortstop Chris Taylor is with Triple-A Tacoma as the Rainiers prepare to open their season Thursday at El Paso (Padres) and could test his recovery from a broken right wrist within the next week.
Trainer Rick Griffin said Taylor has “no restrictions” as he takes part in batting and fielding drills.
Once the Mariners deem Taylor as being ready for game action, he will likely be sent formally to the Rainiers on a rehab assignment. Rehab assignments can last up to 20 days for non-pitchers.
The Mariners can also choose to activate Taylor from the disabled list prior to the end of that 20-day period and place him on the 25-man active roster or option him to the Rainiers.
If there were a Mount Rushmore of Mariners baseball, what four players would be carved into the mountain? That’s what Major League Baseball wants to know in its “Franchise Four” campaign.
Each franchise selected eight nominees for the honor. The winning four for each team will be revealed in July at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
The Mariners’ nominees (in alphabetical order) are Jay Buhner, Alvin Davis, Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer and Ichiro Suzuki.
Yes…no Alex Rodriguez.
Fans can vote to determined the four winners through May 8 at www.mlb.com/franchisefour.
It was 40 years ago Wednesday that Frank Robinson became the first black manager in major-league history, and he marked the occasion by hitting a home run in Cleveland’s 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees.
“I was thinking about that today,” said McClendon, who is the only current black manager. “When he became the first African-American manager in baseball — at the age of 16, I really didn’t appreciate the significance of it.
“Sitting here today, I realize how important it really was. Along with Frank, guys like Jackie Robinson opened up doors that probably wouldn’t have been available to guys like me if they hadn’t done it first.
“I’m very appreciative of that fact.”
Robinson’s managerial debut coincided with Randy Adamack’s first game as the director of that club’s public-relations department. Adamack now serves as the Mariners’ senior vice president for communications.
The Mariners will have just $4,186,900 to spend this year on players selected in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Only the Washington, San Diego and the New York Mets have a lower bonus pool.
Some perspective: The Mariners’ total bonus pool is less than they spent a year ago on outfielder Alex Jackson, who received $4.2 million as the No. 6 overall pick.
Major League Baseball assigns a slot value on all picks through the first 10 rounds. Clubs that exceed their total pool allotment for those picks are subject to penalties.
The Mariners’ pool is so low this year largely because they forfeited their first-round pick by signing free-agent outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz. The club’s first pick is No. 60 overall.
ONE AND DONELefty Tyler Olson made his major-league debut Tuesday by getting Erick Aybar to ground out on the first pitch.
That is notable in that Olson is the first pitcher in at least 28 years to record two outs on one pitch in his debut. MLB’s pitch track only goes back to 1988.
Olson is 16th pitcher since 1914 to face one batter and record two outs in his big-league debut.
A Spokane native, Olson is also the 32nd player in franchise history who was born or raised in Washington.
The organization’s four full-season affiliates open their seasons on Thursday.
***Triple-A Tacoma at El Paso (Padres). Right-hander Jordan Pries, 25, will start for the Rainiers. He was 9-8 with 4.06 ERA in 25 games last season for Tacoma.
***Double-A Jackson at Jacksonville (Marlins). Right-hander Stephen Landazuri, 23, will start for the Generals. He was 6-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 19 starts last season for Jackson.
***Hi-A Bakersfield vs. Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers). Right-hander Edwin Diaz, 21, will start for the Blaze. He was 6-8 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 starts last season at Clinton.
***Lo-A Clinton vs. Beloit (Athletics). Right-hander Daniel Missaki, who turns 19 on Thursday, will start for the LumberKings. He was 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA in 11 starts last season for short-season Pulaski.
It was 25 years ago Thursday — April 9, 1990 — that Ken Griffey Jr. went 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs as the Mariners opened the season with a 7-4 victory at California.
Griffey, then 20, went on to become the American League player of the month for April 1990 — the first time he won that award in his career.
He finished the season with 22 homers, 80 RBIs and a .300 average. He was picked to the All-Star team for the first of 13 times in his career and won the first of his 10 Gold Gloves for defensive excellence.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez turned 29 on Wednesday. His 1,961 strikeouts are fourth-highest total since 1900 for a pitcher prior to his 29th birthday. Sam McDowell had 2,156; Walter Johnson had 2,117 and Bert Blyleven had 2,082…The Mariners, through two games, are already 10,324 fans ahead of last year’s attendance pace.