MARINERS NOTES: Laffey not to be used for lefty-vs.-lefty match-ups, so M’s have no one for specialist role.
After facing eight batters, walking two and throwing 33 pitches, it seemed Aaron Laffey wouldnt be available for Saturdays 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 wouldnt keep him from being available Saturday. And indeed he was.
Wedge doesnt view Laffey as a classic short-relief lefty. Neither does Laffey. Hes a middle reliever with many innings in his arm: “He gets lefties and righties out about the same, Wedge said.
Wedges plans for Laffey are to use him as he would any reliever.
“Hes not a short-inning lefty, and thats not the role we have him in, Wedge said. “Were 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 teams 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 theyre going to be in close games. The jury is out on that point.
“If you have one, you really want to be sure that hes one of the best, Wedge said. “Hes got to be able to match up with the best hitters in the game.
The Mariners dont have that guy. For the moment, theyre 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 Fridays 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 Ichiros 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.