Think about this for a moment, when Barry Zito was a free agent back in 2006, then-general manager Bill Bavasi tried to sign him and was willing to give him a $100 million contract. Instead, Zito signed a 7-year, $126 million contract with the Giants. Since then he's 22-34 for the Giants with a 4.69 ERA, and that's pitching in the National League! Then again Bavasi also courted Adam Eaton, Jason Schmidt and Carl Pavano and the signed Carlos Silva. Wow. And this guy has been employed in baseball his whole life. Nepotism goes a long way.
A few things with the line-up (see below), Betancourt has been moved up to the No. 2 spot, while Ken Griffey Jr. is in there against a lefty in the Giants' Barry Zito.
"It's really with us facing two lefties in Oakland and I don't want him to sit too long," Wakamatsu said of Griffey. "And Zito tends to struggle against lefties as of late. I'll still use Sweeney against the other lefties."
For his career, lefties are hitting .246 and slugging .377 against Zito. And this season (small sample size), lefties are hitting .268.
But one thing Zito will do is walk hitters. He has 19 walks in 49 innings pitched this season.
Maybe Yuni will get a couple walks this game. Or maybe not.
"We've tried everything, we're still trying to find that mix," Wakamatsu said. "With Yuni, he's gotten the message over the last couple days. His last game he had poor pitch selection. It's similar to Beltre, moving him up got him a little more patient approach. We've always said that this guy can hit, hand-eye coordination, and he should believe he can hit with two strikes."
"We're kind of floating around that No. 2 hole of who is that guy and we really haven't found that guy yet."
As for Mariner hitters against Zito, Ichiro is hitting .316 (24-for-76) with three homers and five RBIs. Lopez is hitting .353 (6-for-17).
As for the bullpen, Mark Lowe is unavailable today for certain and most likely Miguel Batista. Sean White and Brandon Morrow will be the set up men with Aardsma closing. But Wakamatsu is still concerned about the bullpen's workload.
"The off day on Thursday couldn't come soon enough for the bullpen," Wakamatsu said. "You look at some of the numbers and it's four out of five, six out of seven, Lowe was six out of nine."
The conversation also went to Felix Hernandez and the difference in him from April to May.
"For us it's always going to come down to what's done prior to the game, they say the battle is won before it's ever started," Wakamatsu said. "The other day when I called him out it wasn't so much about his pitching but the finer things in the game."
Like controlling the running game.
Wakamatsu pointed out that part of the controlling the running makes Felix's delivery quicker and more efficient to the plate.
"With Felix he has to maintain that," Wakamatsu said. "Just like our hitters when they get emotional, they try to get bigger. He's trying find more power in his delivery. He was more efficient early and paid attention to the smaller things. That's what he had a discussion about yesterday. This guy's got a lot of talent but it has to be refined a little bit to get the consistency we are looking for."
To Wakamatsu, consistency and doing the little things is what separates an ace from other pitchers.
"It's not just about going out and wanting to win," Wakamatsu said. "It's about understanding his craft better as he goes forward."
Yuni Betancourt SS
Adrian Beltre 3B
Ken Griffey Jr. DH
Russell Branyan DH
Jose Lopez 2B
Wladimir Balentien LF
Rob Johnson C
Franklin Gutierrez CF
Felix Hernandez P
Aaron Rowand CF
Edgar Renteria SS
Randy Winn RF
Bengie Molina DH
Fred Lewis LF
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Juan Uribe 3B
Emmanuel Burris 2B
Eli Whiteside C
Barry Zito (1-4, 3.62 ERA)