OAKLAND, Calif. — Lloyd McClendon might be making another adjustment to the Seattle starting rotation.
But this time, it won’t be trying to protect against fatigue and struggles. It will be because of it.
Before Tuesday’s game at O.Co Coliseum, the Mariners manager admitted he is considering the possibility of replacing veteran right-hander Chris Young for his scheduled start on Saturday at Texas.
What prompted this? Well, Young struggled in his start on Monday, never making it out of the first inning and giving up five runs on four hits with two walks and no strikeouts.
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McClendon had given Young nine days in between starts after he’d struggled in Boston, going 32/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits.
The extra rest didn’t seem to help with Young’s command, which was spotty. His fastball velocity was down a few ticks in the game.
“He’s not a big velocity guy — what concerns me is command,” McClendon said. “He’s not a power guy. When he starts to lose command a little bit, yeah, I’m a little concerned about it.”
There is a concern that Young is wearing down, which was the reason for the extended rest. He has thrown 151 innings this season. Because of a multitude of injuries, Young has thrown more than 100 innings in a season just once since 2008. Last season, he pitched 32 innings in seven minor-league starts before undergoing season-ending surgery.
“He’s in uncharted territory,” McClendon said. “I’ve got to watch him. I’ve got to evaluate and make a decision.”
That decision could be based on health.
“I feel good. I wouldn’t take the ball if I didn’t,” Young said after Monday’s game. “Every pitcher goes through a period during the season where they don’t throw the ball as well, and mine is right now. I’m going to get through it, I’m going to keep working and I’m going to finish strong.”
Young met with McClendon on Monday evening.
“He assured me he is healthy,” McClendon said. “I assured him I would do what I thought is best for this club. I’m going to evaluate it, and in the next day or two make a decision.”
McClendon will watch Young’s bullpen session, long toss and other aspects carefully with pitching coach Rick Waits and the training staff.
“If I deem him 100 percent healthy, yes, he will start,” McClendon said.
If not, he will turn to hard-throwing youngster Taijuan Walker, who was solid in long relief for Young. Walker tossed six innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts.
“I saw his potential yesterday,” McClendon said. “He pitched extremely well. It shows you what he is capable of. I just have to get him to a point where he can be consistent every time out. My hope is that he can become consistent.”
• McClendon switched up his batting order, moving Kyle Seager back to the clean-up spot and Kendrys Morales down to No. 5.
“I’m just trying flipping them around and seeing if it will jumpstart things, that’s all,” he said.
• Michael Saunders is taking batting practice, catching fly balls and facing some live pitching in simulated situations at the Mariners’ spring-training complex in Peoria, Ariz., in hopes of getting strong enough for a return before the end of the season.
“We’re trying to get him ready,” McClendon said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but we’re trying.”