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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 20, 2008 4:48 PM

Looking at the No. 2 hole (again)

Posted by Geoff Baker

bunt 006.jpg

Up above, lefty starter Erik Bedard makes a throw to first during a bunt coverage drill taking place as I write this. Spoke with manager John McLaren not too long ago and he's going, as you know, with Jose lopez once again tonight in the No. 2 spot in the order. We talked a bit yesterday about why the M's would be experimenting with No. 2 hitters this spring, one of which being the team would need somebody to take Jose Vidro's spot if he:

a) struggles
b) gets too close to his 2009 vesting option kicking in while putting up mediocre numbers

Well, McLaren presented a third option this afternoon and I can't disagree with it.

bunt 008.jpg

McLaren wants to look at others in the No. 2 hole because he wants the option of using the switch-hitting Vidro further back in the order if a lineup contains too many righty hitters in a row. That was a problem at times last season, when McLaren said his lineups would sometimes have five consecutive right handed bats. So, if the team has some other No. 2 hitters it's comfortable with, then Vidro could be bumped further back to break up a string of righties on any particular night.

Now, this doesn't rule out the other two reasons we talked about yesterday. The M's would be foolish not to have a contingency plan if Vidro struggles, especially given his contract and the vesting option. So, that's part of it. But this also makes sense.

McLaren was asked for his thoughts about having too many strikeout-prone hitters in a row in any lineup. He more or less admitted that it's a problem for this team no matter who hits where.

"We've got a lot of hitters that mirror each other,'' he said. "They're slashers.''

That said, McLaren does feel his team is chasing fewer bad pitches this spring than before. McLaren handed out sheets to his players about two weeks ago, highlighting their tendencies at the plate. Some of them were embarassing -- like Jose Lopez being only 1-for-12 (with nine walks) with a 3-1 count. The idea was for players to recognize their shortcomings and take steps to correct them.

In other news, Brandon Morrow should throw in a game on Sunday, if his final bullpen goes well tomorrow. McLaren feels Morrow is still on schedule to open the season on March 31. Willie Bloomquist will also likely play on Sunday, returning from that tight quad problem.

Jeff Clement was 3-for-3 today with a homer, a double and four RBI for Class AAA Tacoma, beating Oklahoma 9-3...If the team is going to trade Clement (whoops, excuse me, I meant to say Jeremy Reed. Clement isn't going to be traded. Nix that. Too much sun for me today), it should do so soon. Reed doesn't need more AAA ball and really doesn't fit much into Seattle's plans. I do like the Padres as trade partners because they have a real need. Good chance of getting a half-decent return in a situation like that.

Pitching for the Royals tomorrow, against the M's? Gil Meche. Heard of him?

Hey, lookie here. An Adam Jones sighting, right on the front page of ESPN.com.

Here are tonight's starting lineups. Richie Sexson is still sore, so he sits.


Seattle Mariners (9-11-1):

51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
28 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
3 Jose Vidro (S) 1B
6 Brad Wilkerson (L) RF
15 Jamie Burke C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS
43 Miguel Batista RHP

Additional Pitchers:
41 R.A. Dickey RHP
48 Roy Corcoran RHP
49 Jake Woods LHP
59 Eric O'Flaherty LHP


San Diego Padres (10-9-1):

24 Brian Giles (L) RF
10 Tadahito Iguchi 2B
5 Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
23 Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
3 Khalil Greene SS
33 Jody Gerut (L) LF
12 Scott Hairston CF
28 Josh Bard C
57 Justin Germano RHP

Additional Pitchers:

21 Heath Bell RHP
41 Kevin Cameron RHP
51 Trevor Hoffman RHP
59 Jared Wells RHP

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