First a few housekeeping things ...
* Brandon Morrow felt good after throwing a bullpen on Saturday and Wakamatsu will have him throw probably two more bullpens and be ready to pitch immediately when he comes off the DL on May 9th.
* Ryan Rowland-Smith will throw a bullpen session on Monday and then possibly a simulated game when the team is in Texas and then sent out on a rehab assignment.
* Ronny Cedeno is now 100 percent and cleared for all activity. He'll probably get a start in the next day or two.
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* Ok, let's get to Carlos Silva.
Honestly, I thought with the call-up of Jason Vargas - a starter in Tacoma - along with Denny Stark and Brandon Morrow really only spending 7 days on the disabled list that Wakamatsu was setting himself up to be able to skip one of Silva's starts and have Vargas fill in, giving Silva some sort of mental break.
Yesterday, he and Wakamatsu were talking quite extensively during yesterday's batting practice out in center field.
"Everybody is talking about what do we do with Carlos Silva?" Wakamatsu said. "The best thing for this organization and team is for him to pitch well. The second thing is, what are our options? And those are the things I talked to him about."
Wakamatsu is trying to salvage Silva as a starter, but even he admits that if Silva's struggles continue, something will have to change.
"At some point he's going to have to make some adjustments and be that guy, if not we have to make adjustments," Wakamatsu said. "But at this point going forward, is that rope shorter? Yeah. At some point, he's going to have to come out and give us a good outing."
And the conversation?
"His stuff is there and that's what we talked about with the understanding that the same thing, that 'hey we're giving you opportunities and we trust in your stuff or we wouldn't be giving you the opportunity to be out here."
Wakamatus believes its so mostly mental with Silva.
"He has some skeletons in the closet obviously with the failures he had here with the performance he had last year," Wakamatsu said. "You just keep hammering away trying to build his confidence and say, 'It's up to you, at what point is your confidence level going to match your stuff?' Because the stuff is there, the other night he threw 95 miles per hour."
Wakamatsu was asked if a normal pitcher has 10 feet of rope, how much is Silva at now?
"It's easier in the sense that we're 3-2 when he starts, if we were 0-5 when he starts then that rope – we have to make adjustments," he said. "Those are the things we look at every day."
Wakamatsu also seemed uneasy in shaking up the bullpen with a major move like that.
"When everybody is healthy in our bullpen, I like our bullpen," he said. "So if it gets to that point where we have to shuffle that, it takes away from other avenues."
As far as I can tell, Silva will make his next scheduled start, which Wakamatsu hinted toward.
"He's willing to do just about anything he can because he's not happy with his performance," Wakamatsu said. "He cares a lot about helping this club. We'll go out and see in his next outing and make the adjustment from there."
* As for pinch hitting, which is something we didn't ask directly (sorry Dave and DMZ, but I was going to ask) but ended up getting there when discussing players' confidence. And then we followed up upon.
"I've seen certain managers where – and that's what we talked about the first month of the season – where you make or break guys pinch hitting that early," he said. "The same thing with the minor leagues. Some organizations frown on the fact that you ever pinch hit in A ball at least. When I was running the system in Anaheim, we had a philosophy where we wouldn't do that with guys for that same reason, you can see it magnified it in the big leagues."
So far the Mariners have pinch hit just four times this season. But expect that number to grow as the season goes on.
"And a lot of that has to do with personnel and how you feel about the match-ups," he said. "I'm not sitting saying that's all I care about is people's feelings. What I'm saying if the options are there as we go forward and get later in the seasons, at least we have established why we would do that in that situation and guys would understand it a little bit more. But it really depends on what tools you have available at the time and how they are swinging."
When asked if he thought it was easier to pinch hit for an older guy who's been around, Wak just chuckled.
"Veterans have pride," he said. "I think it's two ways. You can take the confidence away from a young player, or you can also get some pretty disgruntled guys when you do that. I think it depends on what you've established to that point, on why you do those things. I think it's critical to this team that they understand why we do things. And I do say, we."