Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
June 18, 2008 11:22 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
ADDITIONAL NOTE: To members of "Baghead Nation" who frequent this site, please be advised that the Mariners have announced that the July 19 home game will no longer be televisised nationally. Nor locally. No television at all. Thought you might be interested. On with the post...
In fairness to Richie Sexson, if this was indeed is final at-bat at Safeco Field -- or for the Mariners -- he did go out with a hit. In fairness to the fans who've waited nearly 1 1/2 seasons for him to find his power stroke again, the final Sexson hit, in the eighth inning, was merely a single. It wasn't enough to bring home any runs for a team needing plenty of them tonight. And that single was missing in a pair of earlier at-bats in which Sexson came up with two on and less than two out. But he did go out with a hit tonight. And his team went out...well...with barely a whimper. An 8-3 loss to the Florida Marlins. The Mariners once again out-hit their opponent. But that doesn't matter. It only matters when you get the hits with runners in position to score. Sexson couldn't. His teammates, other than Jeremy Reed, Raul Ibanez and Willie Bloomquist (once each), also couldn't when it really mattered. And the result is another home loss on a 1-5 homestand. Another series defeat in a season long since lost. If this was indeed Sexson's farewell, this is how you'll remember him from 2007 and 2008. Standing at first base at the best of times -- both on defense and offense.
Sexson remained in a back room, one that is off-limits to the media, for more than a half-hour after this game was done. He finally emerged, spotted a media member waiting, turned around and headed back through the off-limits area and out a rear exit.
I caught up with Jose Vidro, who had three singles tonight, but knows he hasn't produced enough. Vidro told me the players are all waiting for moves to happen.
"I think it's going to happen,'' Vidro said. "I think sometimes, with these things, that whatever happens, hopefully they're going to make a decision soon instead of waiting.''
There's no point keeping the players on pins-and-needles, he said. With half a season to go, the team can't afford to have everyone distracted by moves most people expect. Better to get them over with.
Vidro is well aware he could be part of those moves. The team could keep him around as a switch-hitting, pinch-hitter who can get you a single late in a game. Or, it can dump Vidro and free up playing time for others.
In the past, Vidro has hit well in certain NL cities like Atlanta, where the team opens a nine-game road trip on Friday. Vidro has yet to be told how he'll be used. There is no DH in these upcoming games and first base is sometimes an option for him. But manager John McLaren has been working others out at the position and has yet to tell Vidro what his plans are for him.
Vidro assumes McLaren has been too busy with all of the week's events to worry about one player. And Vidro insists he isn't worrying about his own fate.
"I've got more important things to worry about,'' said Vidro, hitting just .219 with virtually no power despite the three hits. "I've got to start hitting better. That's more important to me. Worrying about that other stuff, what could happen to me, is not at the top of my list right now.''
At the top of McLaren's list is figuring out how to get hits with men on base. Another 13 hits by the Mariners tonight, bit only three runs. That's 26 hits in two games, most of them singles.
"I'd like to have some power with some guys on base,'' McLaren said. "You'd love the three-run homer, believe me.''
Sexson is supposed to be the three-run homer guy. He came up, as we mentioned, twice with two men on and the chance to get his team back in it. He barely hit the ball 60 feet.
When he did get his lone hit, it was yet another single.
The writing's on the wall.
Not for R.A. Dickey. He gets one more chance in the rotation for now. Dickey felt he had a decent knuckleball but struggled with his release point all night. McLaren wants to see how Dickey does in more humid weather.
Would like to see his team do better, no doubt.
But when the power guys are all singles hitters, sometimes you just are what you are.