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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 29, 2008 3:17 PM

Clement, Balentien up "sooner than later''

Posted by Geoff Baker

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A look above at Brad Wilkerson, leaving the dugout during batting practice under the watchful eye of GM Bill Bavasi and assistent GM Lee Pelakoudis. Manager John McLaren said during his pre-game session with reporters and he said Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien will likely be up here "sooner than later.''

I walked over to Bavasi after that and asked him flat-out whether service time or "Super Two'' status would have any impact on a decision to call a player up from Class AAA. Bavasi responded that, if a club had to need to feel, the answer is "it has no impact on a decision.''

Easy to say now, since Clement and Balentien will not gain a full year of service time in 2008 if called up on May 7 or later. I suppose that if the M's were to promote Clement on May 5, at the start of the next homestand, we'd all shut up about this. But anyway, I got the impression talking to Bavasi -- and McLaren -- that the "Super Two'' stuff is a non-issue and the team won't wait until June.

"They'll both be here sooner than later,'' McLaren said. "We're well aware of them. They're very highly thought of.''

McLaren said service time has no bearing on when the pair will be promoted.

I've been writing mid-May as a drop-dead date since spring training. Here's why. I figured, the team would give a month to everyone to get their feet on the ground. After that, serve them notice that if they don't improve, they will be switched. Sort of like serving notice in the workplace. Well, the notice has apparently been served.

"We've given everybody a fair opportiunity,'' McLaren said. "We've been patient, we've given everybody the benefit of the doubt. So, with that said, we're ready to move forward one way or the other.''

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McLaren said that when Clement and Balentien do get called up, they're going to play. It's different, he added, from the Adam Jones situation last year when the players he would have replaced all started to hit and were doing well during a playoff chase. Hear what McLaren actually said right here in this clip.

"We kind of just mixed him in whenever we could,'' McLaren said of Jones. "It's a little differnet now, w2e have guys that are struggling. If we bring them up, we're going to play them.''

McLaren said the wait now is a combination of continuing the short-term development of Clement and Balentien -- partucularly the latter after his knee got banged up -- and giving the struggling bats one final chance to show themselves.

"We've got several guys around the .200 mark and they've got to pick it up in a hurry,'' he said.

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