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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 23, 2009 2:15 PM

Short bench means Burke at first base today --- and Griffey sits in for Wak

Posted by Bob Condotta

Husky writer --- and unfortunately also husky writer, judging by my last trip to the scales --- Bob Condotta here filling in for Geoff Baker today from Safeco Field.

Also potentially filling in in an unfamiliar role is catcher Jamie Burke, who is likely to play first base for the Mariners today against Tampa Bay.

Burke may be called to duty --- as of 2:10 there was still no official lineup --- with Russell Branyan and Mike Sweeney each nursing back spasms and Ronny Cedeno also out today with a minor hamstring injury.

The first lineup posted today had Cedeno at second and Jose Lopez at first --- Lopez moved to first last night when Sweeney was hurt. But with Cedeno out, Lopez has to move back to second, leaving Burke as the only option at first

Burke has played six games at first base in the major leagues, most recently two innings last Sept. 18 against Kansas City. He also played 18 games at first at Class AAA in 2006.

"I feel like he can handle it out there today,'' said manager Don Wakamatsu, who really has no choice but to find out.

Wakamatsu said Sweeney is feeling better today and is "day-to-day'' but not ready to play today except in an emergency. Branyan is also feeling better but Wakamatsu said he was still favoring the back during batting practice so he is also likely still out.

Cedeno hurt his right hamstring when he scored on Lopez's home run in the fifth inning last night. Wakamatsu said Cedeno was unclear the ball was going out so he started annd stopped and strained it.

Wakamatsu said the tricky thing is that none of the injuries are serious enough to result in anyone going on the DL --- all could be back in a day or two. So he'd rather just play short today and try make due.

"We'll patchwork it,'' he said. "It's tough but everyone's going through it. Anaheim's going through the same thing. It's one of those things you have to go through and do the best you can.''

Ken Griffey Jr., meanwhile, is simply getting a day off so he isn't in the lineup, either.

Still, he made his presence felt here today, taking Wakamatsu's seat in the dugout for the manager's regular pregame meeting with the media.

Griffey good-naturedly entertained a few questions, saying when asked why Griffey isn't playing that "once it hits below 52 degrees, he doesn't play.'' He also predicted he'll hit lead off at least once this season and that the only day games following night games he will play is "Mother's Day, special days like that.''

Asked the confusion over his walk last night when he hesitated to go to first he said he knew it was ball four but he thought the umpire said something to him (which actually was a completely serious answer when looked at in print though he was pretty humorous about it in the telling).

After a few minutes he said, "This is easy. It this all he has to do?'' But asked if he'll ever manager, Griffey said "no'' about 10 times. "I'd yell and scream too much,'' he said. "I'd be ejected in the first 10 minutes.''

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