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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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April 27, 2008 11:45 AM

4/27 Mariners-A's pregame

Posted by Tom Wyrwich

Tom Wyrwich here at Safeco, doing my best to fill in for Geoff today.

The Mariners look to win their three-game series against Oakland today, and they have Felix Hernandez (2-0, 1.67 ERA, .239 opp avg.) on the mound.

Greg Norton (6-for-12, 2 2B, 4 RBI) is back in the lineup as the designated hitter batting fifth, but this isn't just a reward for three hits on Saturday night. Manager John McLaren said the Mariners are going to try and find different places in the lineup and on the field for Norton to fit in.

The Mariners still have Carlos Silva (3-0, 2.83 ERA, .256 opp avg.) and Miguel Batista (2-3, 5.26 ERA, .305 opp avg.) slotted to pitch this week against Cleveland, Silva on Tuesday and Batista on Thursday. Both left their games this week, but McLaren said the M's don't have a reason to believe they won't start as expected.

Also, one more note: J.J. Putz (1-0, 2 saves, 9.00 ERA .333 opp avg.) is available today if needed.

Here are today's lineups:

Oakland

Mark Ellis 2B
Daric Barton 1B
Emil Brown RF
Frank Thomas DH
Jack Cust LF
Bobby Crosby SS
Ryan Sweeney CF
Bob Bowen C
Jack Hannahan 3B
Joe Blanton P

Mariners

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Jose Lopez 2B
Raul Ibanez LF
Adrian Beltre 3B
Greg Norton DH
Richie Sexson 1B
Brad Wilkerson RF
Kenji Johjima C
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Felix Hernandez P

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Posted by Spokanefan

12:27 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Good to see Norton getting more playing time. The more i don't see Vidro's name in the starting lineup, the better. With King Felix on the mound we should be pretty good. Let's just hope our bats and bullpen can both be on at the same time today!

Posted by AKMarinersFan

12:37 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Gosh It must be hard to find places in the lineup for Norton on this team....I mean we are toaking about several sub .200 VETERAN hitters. Thankfully MAC is really good about figuring really complicated things like this out.

Posted by scottM

12:51 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Ok, let's give McLaren kudos for riding Norton's hot bat again today. Simple formula––he stays hot, he continues to play at DH. He cools down, then give Vidro another shot. If Vidro gets hot, then play him. If they both go cold, bring in someone else (Clement).

Oops, scratch that. Mac, with the extension, says he's glad Joh won't have to feel competitive pressure at the catcher spot.

But for everyone else, pleeez MAC, let them feel some pressure to perform. (Hint, hint....Wilkerson....hint, hint).

It's Felix Day!.......Go Norton!!!!

(Oh, and forgive the dumb jingle from the last post. It was inspired in a moment of weakness by Chris from Bothell's famous "Felix Day" rap, GEOFF's critique and analysis rant, and the Jefferson Airplane).

Posted by James from Walla Walla

1:10 PM, Apr 27, 2008

I have a dream!! This is what our hitting line up should be before the All-Star break.

To start with bench Sexson! Especially, at home with Sexson not hitting. I'd like to have Norton take over at 1st base. Move Ibanez into the DH role, some OF. Release Wilkerson and Vidro!! Bring up Reed and Balentien for the OF spots. Once Morse is back let Cairo go, we have Morse & Bloomquest to play OF & IF positions. Bring up Clement up to back up Kenji espesially if his hitting doesn't pick up. Use Clement to DH some as well. We would have to release Burke to make room.

Anyone else have a similar dream??

Posted by Donovan

1:26 PM, Apr 27, 2008

AK - Re: the usual VETERAN rant mantra

Norton broke into the Majors in 96, Vidro in 97, so Greg is more veteran than Jose. Ditto Sexson. Wilk didn't debut until 2001. Of the 4, Norton is the old veteran.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:39 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Donavan

The issue is not the "veteran" status of the replacement player (although I think is easier for McLaren to rationalize replacing a Veteran with a Veteran). The issue is taking ANY ESTABLISHED VETERAN out of the lineup. If a player is in the lineup on opening day they are ENTITLED to remain in the lineup for a long long time no matter how much they suck!

Posted by Donovan

1:48 PM, Apr 27, 2008

So 25 games is a long, long time, at the start of a season, when many hitters struggle?

I'd say trying alternatives at the end of the first month is totally reasonable. I'm not arguing with your premise that Vidro has been poor. He has, which is why Norton is standing in there again today. Mac is making the same move that I would, pretty much when I would have made it. I'd say the writing is on the wall for Wilk, who isn't even an established veteran with this team. If Wilk doesn't break out, I see Norton in RF and Clement up to DH in the month of May. Not a perfect solution, but the logical one, barring a trade for a more VETERAN solution. Nothing Mac has said or done suggests to me that he won't make these moves. In fact, I 'd say he is totally telegraphing it. Bavasi too.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

1:53 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Do you remember last seasson?

I don't think McLaren or Bavasi have a real good track with making timely, smart moves....

Posted by Donovan

2:01 PM, Apr 27, 2008

I remember Grover doing nothing in the first half. Mac was just the bench coach. In the second half, after Mac took over without preparation, Vidro was hot, Raul (who had a poor stretch early) was hot, and Mac DID bench Sexson, who then hit decently when he was brought back in until he got hurt. I don't see where Mac deserves the broad brush treatment due to anything that happened last year. Blame Grover and Bavasi.

This year, things look different to me. Partly because the team sees the Division as winnable and last year they didn't. We have bats at AAA that are potentially ready to fill in at the trouble spots, though there are risks and costs associated with that. I expect Clement to come up this month and DH and to compete with Kenji next year in ST. Again, the timing of that makes sense to me.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:21 PM, Apr 27, 2008

I think we are seeing he "ACE" of this team pitching today. Its like he toys with the other team to make it more of a challenge.

Posted by Donovan

2:21 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Wow. The ability of Felix to summon up a big K when he needs one this year is awesome. He has that extra gear that the great ones do. Watching him pitch is hard to beat.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:34 PM, Apr 27, 2008

And its all credit to Bavasi to bring in Bedard to "push" Felix. Same with Lopez and Cairo. Bavasi is brilliant!

Posted by Corey Miller

2:45 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Right now...and I mean at this moment not next week or what have you; but is there a top three in any starting rotation in baseball that makes a team think twice?

Posted by Corey Miller

3:06 PM, Apr 27, 2008

Why was there NO ONE warming in the bullpen to start the 8th?

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