Lineups are posted above. And here's a transcript of Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's pregame comments, including his thoughts on what Roenis Elias needs to do to be successful in his 2015 debut this afternoon.
(Reports on Roenis Elias?) “He’s getting better. Command was getting better. He’s not new to this atmosphere up here. He won’t be overwhelmed. Hopefully, he’s on his game. If he is, we should have a good chance to win the ballgame.”
(Elias’ biggest problem in Tacoma?) “Just command. Command of the fastball. Really, that’s what probably did him in in spring training, just not having real good command. But he’s been working on it, and I think he’s better now.”
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(On command being so important for Elias) “That’s true of any pitcher, really, if you think about it. A guy could be throwing 86, but if he’s hitting his spots, it’s going to be tough to beat him. Command is really the major component to being successful – putting the ball where you want to put it, when you need to put it there.”
(Tom Wilhelmsen’s progress?) “Felt great (after playing catch Friday). Problem is he hadn’t thrown in two weeks. Playing catch. Stretch out to 90 feet on the road and hopefully get on the mound and start throwing downward. … probably 10-12 days away.”
(Anything surprise you about Nelson Cruz, being around him every day?) “I’ve known Nelson for quite some time and I’ve seen him perform, so it’s not really surprising. He goes about his business in a pretty good way. He does his homework. He knows the league. He knows the pitchers. He stays within himself. It really hasn’t surprised me that he’s started off like this.”
(How would you characterize the season so far?) “Ups and downs. I don’t know if there’s anything else you can say. We’ve had some good times, we’ve had some bad times. We’ve swung the bats, and sometimes we haven’t. Sometimes we don’t catch the ball. Sometimes we don’t pitch. Still cold. I think we’re progressing. I think this club is real close to taking off. Not quite there yet.”
(Does something need to happen for the team to take off?) “Pitching. You can talk to any manager in baseball, they’ll tell you – it’s a broken record. You pitch and you catch the ball, you’re going to win games. And we haven’t done it. We had one of the worst offenses in baseball last year, (but had) best pitching in baseball. We were 12 games over. So it’s no secret. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel. We’ve got to pitch, and we’ve got to catch the ball.”
(Concerned about errors, etc. this early?) “No, not really. I mean, listen – if this happened in June, nobody would say a darn thing. it’s the first 15, 16 games of the season, it’s all magnified. The fact is, every team is going to go through their lapses, both physically and mentally. And hopefully that’s the last of ours.”
(Tough when those lapses happen to start the season?) “I think it’s tougher for you guys. Not for me. I’ve been in the game too long. I’ve seen it all. Certainly, this is part of the game. I think my players are fine. They show up every day. Nobody’s quit yet. So I think we’re OK.”