Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners notebook: Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte could add another wrinkle

Mariners switch-pitcher Pat Venditte was promoted Saturday from Triple-A Tacoma.
Mariners switch-pitcher Pat Venditte was promoted Saturday from Triple-A Tacoma.

How about a new twist for switch-pitcher Pat Venditte?

The Mariners have one in mind.

Venditte has always used his ambidextrous skills to pitch left-handed to left-handed batters and right-handed to right-handed batters. The only question was how to approach switch-hitters.

"That’s kind of predicated on the team that I’m on," he said. "Oakland would dictate which way I would face switch-hitters. I imagine it would be the same here."

The Mariners want to consider taking it a step further.

"There are some right-handed hitters," manager Scott Servais said, "who don’t hit the left-handed pitchers as well as they hit the righties. Do we want him to face those righties as a left-handed pitcher?

"In the past, he’s always flipped around. We’ll sit and talk with him a little bit and get a feel for where he’s at."

Venditte pitched three strong innings in Monday’s 6-3 loss at Texas and approached hitters in normal fashion: left-on-left, right-on-right and choosing a preferred side for switch-hitters.

"It’s pretty remarkable," Servais said, "when you sit there and watch how he does it.”

But Venditte’s career splits — and they’re limited; just 37 1/3 career innings prior to Monday — show that he’s far more effective in left-on-left match-ups as opposed to right-on-right situations.

That’s primarily how the Mariners plan to use him — as a left-handed specialist. They are more likely to call on Nick Vincent, Dan Altavilla or even Steve Cishek in key right-on-right match-ups prior to the ninth inning.

But if the opponent has a left-right-left mix, Venditte becomes a more-likely option — and the situation presents itself: How does he pitch to the right-hander in the middle?

That’s still under discussion.

FAST FROM THE BOX

It’s probably no surprise that ESPN found Cincinnati speedster Billy Hamilton as the fastball player from home-to-first in breaking down times when a player hits a potential double-play grounder.

Hamilton tracked at 3.93 seconds.

No surprise either that Miami shortstop Dee Gordon is second at 3.98 seconds or that Kansas City (and former Oakland) outfielder Billy Burns is third at 3.99 seconds.

The fourth-fastest player is Mariners utilityman Shawn O’Malley at 4.01 seconds.

"He does get down the line well," Servais said, "and he always runs hard."

The No. 5 player might also surprise you: It’s 42-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, currently with the Marlins, at 4.03 seconds.

60 AND COUNTING

Robinson Cano’s home run in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the White Sox at Chicago was his 60th extra-base hit of the season. He entered Monday with 29 doubles, one triple and 30 home runs.

This is the seventh time in Cano’s 12-year career that he’s reached 60 extra-base hits, but it’s first time he’s done it in his three seasons with the Mariners. He had 56 extra-base hits in 2015 and 53 in 2014.

Cano’s career high is 82 extra-base hits in 2012 with the New York Yankees.

NO BOUNCE-BACK YET

Dae-Ho Lee’s first two games since returning to the big leagues looked a lot like the struggling player the Mariners sent to the minors earlier in August for a seven-game remedial tour.

Lee had three strikeouts in four at-bats Saturday and Sunday against the White Sox — although he did have a walk and reached another time when hit by a pitch.

While at Triple-A Tacoma, Lee had 14 hits in 27 at-bats, which prompted the Mariners to recall him prior to Saturday’s game in Chicago. Lee was in a 4-for-51 slump when optioned Aug. 19 to the Rainiers.

Adam Lind started Monday against Texas right-hander Yu Darvish, but Lee figures to return to the lineup for next two games against Rangers lefties Cole Hamels and Martin Perez.

"We need to get (Lee) going," Servais said. "He’ll play (Tuesday), and we’ll see how it goes."

ALL-PCL TEAM

Triple-A Tacoma placed two players on the All-Pacific Coast League team: outfielder Stefen Romero and designated hitter Dan Vogelbach.

It marks the first time since 2001 that two Rainiers were picked to the 12-player team, which includes three pitchers. The 2001 Rainiers had three players: first baseman Todd Betts, shortstop Ramon Vasquez and right-hander Dennis Stark.

Romero, 27, is batting .314 in 102 games through Sunday with 21 homers and 84 RBIs.

Vogelbach, 23, spent much of the season at Iowa before joining the Rainiers after the Mariners acquired him in a July 20 trade from the Chicago Cubs. Through Sunday, he is batting a combined .295 in 127 games with 21 homers and 90 RBIs.

The rest of the All-PCL team: El Paso (Padres) catcher Austin Hedges, Reno (Diamondbacks) first baseman Kyle Jensen, El Paso second baseman Carlos Asuaje, Colorado Springs (Brewers) shortstop Orlando Arcia, Oklahoma City (Dodgers) third baseman Rob Segedin, El Paso outfielders Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe, Fresno (Astros) right-hander Brady Rogers, Sacramento (Giants) left-hander Ty Blach and Fresno reliever James Hoyt.

MINOR AWARDS

Two Mariners prospects won weekly awards in their leagues for Aug. 22-28:

***Hi-A Bakersfield outfielder Austin Wilson, 24, as the player of the week in the California League. He was 10-for-21 with five homers and 10 RBIs in six games. He is batting .226 overall in 99 games with 13 homers and 48 RBIs.

***Short-A Everett right-hander Brandon Miller, 21, as the pitcher of the week in the Northwest League. He pitched five hitless innings against Eugene (Cubs) in his only start. He is 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 13 games, including 12 starts.

MINOR EXTENSION

The Mariners reached agreement with Lo-A Clinton on a two-year extension in their player-development contract through 2018. The LumberKings have been a Mariners affiliate since 2009.

Clinton is 81-52 this season, though Sunday, and has already clinched a spot in the Midwest League playoffs for the first time since 2013. A year ago, the LumberKings endured a nightmarish 46-93 season.

"This year has been a magical year for us," Clinton general manager Ted Tornow said, "as it has been a recommitment to playing baseball."

LOOKING BACK

It was 23 years ago Tuesday — Aug. 30, 1993 — that the Mariners reached an agreement with shortstop Alex Rodriguez, whom they selected with the first overall pick on June 3 in the MLB Draft.

Rodriguez, then 18, received a three-year deal for $1.3 million plus a $1 million bonus. Less than a year later — July 8, 1994 — he made his major-league debut.

SHORT HOPS

Manager Scott Servais, at this point, isn’t planning to adjust his rotation because of Thursday’s open date in the schedule. That suggests the Mariners will start Ariel Miranda, Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma this weekend against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field…the Mariners entered Monday with a 20-percent chance of reaching postseason, according to the latest computer projections by www.FiveThirtyEight.com…one difference to note between first-place Texas and the Mariners, who began the week tied for second place at 8 1/2 games behind: the Rangers are 29-8 in one-run games, while the Mariners are 23-24.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Rangers continue their three-game series at 5:05 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday at Globe Life Park. Left-hander James Paxton (4-5 with a 3.63 ERA) will face Texas lefty Cole Hamels (14-4, 2.67).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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