Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.
August 5, 2008 4:40 PM
Posted by Geoff Baker
Up above, a look at Ichiro and Jeremy Reed conferring in the outfield during today's batting practice, which is still going on. Can't blame Reed if he's asking "What does this all mean for me?''
It is getting to be a crowded outfield, now that Wladimir Balentien has been called up from Class AAA Tacoma following the DFA of Jose Vidro. We spoke to manager Jim Riggleman a short time ago and I asked him about the delays that have gone on in making this move. Asked him whether the injury to Jeff Clement had made him reluctant to jettison Vidro's healthy bat -- which had been hitting a bit better of late.
He flat out rejected that. Said this was all about Balentien.
"This is something we've talked about with getting Balentien here -- period,'' he said.
OK, then. But again, if that's the case, why wait this long? Why not have called Balentien up on Aug. 1?
"He had been kind of hot and cold to tell you the truth,'' he said of Balentien, riding an eight-game hit streak. "He's been hot lately.''
Riggleman several times said he was surprised no one picked Vidro up in a trade. Makes me think there might have been something else going on behind the scenes. Perhaps there was a possible waiver trade to be made regarding Vidro (after the deadline) that fell through. Stuff like that happens all the time.
Otherwise, this whole Vidro and Balentien wait makes little sense.
Anyhow, Balentien is tonight's DH, batting seventh. Riggleman said there will be a rotation amongst the outfielders as to who will DH. Sometimes, Balentien, sometimes Reed and also Raul Ibanez. Riggleman said the DH thing won't happen a lot in Ibanez's case. Especially with him swinging the bat that he is right now. But he also mentioned that Ibanez has rarely had time off this year and that a DH stint here and there could give him a rest of sorts.
I caught up with Balentien just a few moments ago and asked him about going back down to Tacoma. He said it took him some time to get back in a groove again, but playing every day down there helped.
"It's hard when you aren't playing every day,'' he said. "It's hard to find your swing. But once I went down, after a few days, I had my swing back.''
Of course, Balentien had been playing every game for the M's before he kept swinging and missing at too many pitches.
"You need to make your adjusments quick if you want to come back to the higher levels,'' he said, nodding in agreement.
In other words, he can't slump like he did the last time and knows it. Rookie or not. He has to leave a positive impression.
Brandon Morrow will start in Tacoma tomorrow. He's on a 35-pitch limit, then goes into a regular five-day rotation, increasing each time as long as he feels OK.
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