Leading off for the Seattle Mariners Monday against the Yankees: 1B Logan Morrison. For the first time in his baseball life.
Manager Lloyd McClendon, in an effort to “shake things up” with his moribund offense, moved up the beefy Morrison to the spot typically reserved for team’s fastest player. Asked if he had the green light to steal, Morrison said, with the barest smile, “Sure, that’s what leadoff hitters have.”
“I made that lineup about four o’clock in the morning after a little ice cream,” McClendon joked.
How did Morrison find out? Well, McClendon called him into the office and had him watch as they penciled his name on the official lineup card.
“I was like, ‘Oh,’” Morrison said mimicking a puzzled look on his face. “It don’t matter. Whatever. All that matters is that I’m in the lineup.”
McClendon also moved up 2B Robinson Cano, RF Nelson Cruz and 3B Kyle Seager from 3-4-5 to 2-3-4. Seth Smith was DH hitting fifth, followed by former leadoff hitter and CF Austin Jackson, SS Brad Miller, C Mike Zunino and LF Dustin Ackley.
“I made that lineup about four in the morning — after eating ice cream,” said McClendon, drawing laughter from reporters who were expecting his usual reference to scotch for his inspiration. “Really, I’m just trying to shake things up. You go to a fishing hole and you don’t catch any fish at some point, you have to change holes. Hopefully this will jump start us a little bit.”
The Mariners Sunday lost 6-3 in 12 innings to Cleveland, which took three of four in the series after the Mariners returned from a 6-3 road trip. Of the Mariners’ five hits, only one came in the final six innings.
That left the Mariners at 24-26 at the 50-game mark, which McClendon always says is his earliest seasonal benchmark for assessment.
“I like my team,” McClendon said, repeating the words from the same point a year ago when the team was 25-25 and finished with 87 wins, missing the playoffs by a game. “I like the way they go about their business. The way they show up every day. They’re very resilient. They’re a tough group. I think they’re built to win.
“We haven’t played our best baseball. Not even close to it. We showed glimpses of what we can do. And at the same time, no one’s run away from us in this division. I think the most important thing for us now is to not look at the standings and just understand we have a lot of baseball left and show up every day.”
McClendon also said rookie LHP Mike Montgomery will make his major league debut Tuesday as the starter against Yankees. Although the decision wasn’t official, Montgomery was in the clubhouse. He is filling in for James Paxton, the lefty starter with a strained finger tendon who will be out at least three weeks.
Montgomery, who will make his major league debut, was acquired at the end of spring training in a trade with Tampa for RHP Erasmo Ramriez.
The Mariners will have to make room on the roster Tuesday, which likely will mean the return to Tacoma of reliever Dominic Leone.
The Mariners Monday summoned RHP Mayckol Guaipe from AAA Tacoma and optioned SS Chris Taylor back to the Rainiers. Guaipe, a 24-year-old Venezuelan, was available for Monday’s game and will make his major league debut with his first appearance.
In 16 outings with the Rainiers, he went 0-2 with three saves and a 4.58 ERA (10 ER, 19.2 IP).
Guaipe, 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds struck out 18 and walked three. In nine minor league seasons in the Mariners organization, he has appeared in 183 games (23-20, 3.60 ERA, 321 SO).
“I’ve been waiting for this call for a long time,” he said through translator Fernando Alcala. “It’s what I’ve been working for all these years. To be able to get that work done and be here is a great opportunity.”
Taylor, 24, hit .159 in 20 games (18 starts at SS) with the Mariners after being recalled from AAA Tacoma May 4. In 21 games with the Rainiers, Taylor hit .313 with five doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs.
“I will tell you exactly what I told Chris Taylor,” McClendon said pre-game. “I said, ‘I love you, kid, and I think you are going to be a tremendous shortstop in this league, but at the same time I cannot allow you to swim uphill. It’s tough to straighten things out at this level, especially when you are facing Archer, Kluber, Bauer and Pineda.’
“He needs to take a step back. It gives him a chance to get a breather and relax a little bit and get it back to together. He’s not the first kid to be sent to the minor leagues and have a great career, and he won’t be the last. He’ll be okay.”
Injured during spring training and forced to start his season with the Rainiers, Taylor failed to adjust to major league pitching after his recall.
Guaipe was signed by the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent Oct. 11, 2006.
Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91) will start for Seattle Monday night opposite former Mariner Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.36).