BY John Hickey 08:25PM 04/09/2011

Lack of one-shot lefty doesn’t bother Wedge

MARINERS NOTES: Laffey not to be used for lefty-vs.-lefty match-ups, so M’s have no one for specialist role.

Aaron Laffey won't be used solely against left-handed hitters. / Wiki Commons

If it struck you as a bit odd that Seattle manager Eric Wedge used his only left-handed reliever for two innings in the middle of a blowout loss Friday, you weren’t alone.

After facing eight batters, walking two and throwing 33 pitches, it seemed Aaron Laffey wouldn’t be available for Saturday’s game. What was the point using your only lefty in a lopsided game if it meant not having a lefty available the next night?

But Laffey and Wedge both come out of the Cleveland organization. The manager knows the pitcher. Wedge said he felt certain Friday that using Laffey wouldn’t keep him from being available Saturday. And indeed he was.

Wedge doesn’t view Laffey as a classic short-relief lefty. Neither does Laffey. He’s a middle reliever with many innings in his arm: “He gets lefties and righties out about the same,’’ Wedge said.

Wedge’s plans for Laffey are to use him as he would any reliever.

“He’s not a short-inning lefty, and that’s not the role we have him in,’’ Wedge said. “We’re not looking to match him up exclusively against left-handers.”

That leads us to this question: Do the Mariners need a situational lefty, a guy who comes in to match up with the other team’s best left-handed hitter late in close games? The classic of the genre is former Mariner Arthur Rhodes, now with Texas.

Well, they could use one if they’re going to be in close games. The jury is out on that point.

“If you have one, you really want to be sure that he’s one of the best,’’ Wedge said. “He’s got to be able to match up with the best hitters in the game.’’

The Mariners don’t have that guy. For the moment, they’re content to let it be so.

BAT SPACE, PART II: Frequent visitors to this space will remember that Seattle right fielder Ichiro Suzuki was at a bit of a loss before Friday’s home opener.

He was used to putting the two bats he brings out for each batting practice in a specific spot, putting them between the bench seat and the back support.

The Mariners replaced the old wooden benches with a new composite material, and while it makes for a more comfortable seating area, there was no room for Ichiro’s bats.

So after scouting  locations Friday, Ichiro had members of the clubhouse staff bring out a large drill Saturday. They drilled a spot big enough to put at least one of the bats.

Whether a second spot gets drilled remains an open question.

NOTES: A sixth-inning single by Chone Figgins snapped an 0-for-26 slide for the Seattle third baseman … Wedge said that rookie right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen, who threw 51 pitches in 1.2 innings of relief Friday, was the only reliever unavailable Saturday. … The Mariners had their first big giveaway of the season, handing out Felix Hernandez bobblehead dolls, which made for early crowds around Safeco Field while the Sounders crowd next door at Qwest Field was exiting after a 2-1 victory … Newcomer Chris Gimenez is likely to get his first start for the Mariners in the series finale Sunday … The free-swinging Mariners seem to be a little less free these days. They came into Saturday ranked third in the American League in walks (27), although a paltry .226 batting average (11th) meant that the team on-base percentage was .299, ninth in the league. …

Twitter: @JHickey3


  • Interesting…it will be fun to see if he can sustain those numbers playing USC, OR and Stanford instead of EWU and HI.

  • Pixeldawg

    “12.5 percent of Price’s 122 throws have resulted in touchdowns (3 vs.
    Eastern Washington, 4 vs. Hawaii, 3 vs. Nebraska, 3 vs. California).”
    3+4+3+3 != 14
    He threw for 4 TDs vs. Nebraska as well as vs. Hawaii.

  • Anonymous

    Montana may want to transfer. These numbers are remarkable!

  • crumudgeon

    As much as I like the way Locker finished last year, I always had problems with his lack of touch and accuracy passing the ball.  We kept waiting for him to “finally get it”, but he never really did.  He became a better quarterback last year, but his passing was still average at best. They always said he had “a canon for an arm”, but canons are not the most accurate of weapons.  
    How many times did we see receivers as open as Polk was on his touchdown reception Saturday, only to see Jake sail the ball 4 or 5 yards over their heads?  But he made up for this with his athleticism and his leadership.  The Denver Broncos have a similar athlete on their roster who’s currently their 3rd string quarterback.The Huskies finally have a quarterback who’s throwing ability is not a liability.  In fact, his only liability seems to his physical size — compared to most quarterbacks, he is on the short side — around 6′ tall.  But when he is on the field the Husky offense seems to move almost effortlessly down the field.  Like Locker, he appears to possess those intangible qualities such as leadership.  He also smiles a lot too, which gives the play by play guys something to comment on when the camera pans the sidelines.  This might be the beginning of something special. 

  • Lyssa

    The “Price” is right!! Go Keith! I love you cousin! Also, how come we can’t find his jersey anywhere? What’s up with that?

  • J4hansen

    I have always stated that Jake Locker was a great athete at UW, but not that great of QB in the sense of what that position is suppose to be.  And certainly he wouldn’t be Coach Sark’s first choice, if both showed up on the same day, as Jake came from a high school that ran a form of the Veer offense.  He was not a passing QB in high school.  Price, to my surprise, seems to be a more typical QB type and a much better passer, considering Nick Montana can’t pass him in the depth charts.  At 6’1″ I don’t feel Price is that short if you compare him to Drew Breeze and such QB’s in the NFL.  He could stand to put a few more pounds on the body though.

  • Bigk9

    I just read the interview with Don James and they asked him about Keith Price vs. Jake Locker.
    The Dawgfather said both were excellent, but Price has far more targets that Jake ever had – primarily the 2 freshman All Americans, and a 6’6″ tight end. Locker never had a TE and there were no plays to that position, which made things a lot tougher for Jake.
    He also said Price is getting much better protection and time to throw the ball.
    Considering everything, they are both great QBs, but Price needs to hit the weight room. He seems fragile. Locker took far more punishment and kept going.