Lloyd McClendon sort of shrugged when asked about using rookie Stefen Romero as the designed hitter Friday.
“Somebody’s gotta DH,” the Mariners manager said.
A day later, Romero was the DH for the third consecutive day against the Astros and hitting second for the second day in a row.
He must be doing something right.
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And with regular designated hitter Corey Hart (hamstring) sidelined for at least the next six weeks, the right-handed-hitting Romero expects to see more time as the DH, particularly against left-handed pitching.
“It’s always great to make the manager feel at ease, especially when you’re doing well,” Romero said. “We have a stretch here where we’re facing a lot of lefties, and I’ll be hitting second. … It’s definitely an advantage when the manager puts you in there in those situations, and you just want to go out there and produce.”
Romero walked in his first plate appearance Saturday and scored the Mariners’ first run. The 25-year-old outfielder, a former Oregon State standout, entered the day hitting .217 with two home runs, six runs batted in and a .624 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his first 92 major-league at-bats.
In between at-bats, Romero said he takes hacks in the clubhouse batting cage.
“You’ve got to stay loose and you’ve got to separate your at-bats. When you’re playing defense, your mind is on defense; when you come to hit, you think about hitting,” he said. “But when you’re DH’ing, one bad at-bat can lead to another bad at-bat if you let it. You just have to separate at-bats and stay loose and just try to stay in the game as much as you can.”
Walker to start in Tacoma
Taijuan Walker, the Mariners’ 21-year-old top prospect, is scheduled to make his first rehab start Wednesday in Tacoma, barring any setbacks between now and then with his ailing right shoulder.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander, sidelined since mid-April, threw 56 pitches Friday afternoon in his second simulated game of the week.
On Saturday, he said he was feeling only “normal” soreness for the day after a start.
“I feel good today. I feel really good,” he said.
He said he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen session Sunday, then some long toss before his start Wednesday. He’s scheduled to throw about 70 to 75 pitches in Tacoma.
“I’m excited to get back out there Wednesday. I’ll be on my regular five-day routine again.”
• As part of the Mariners’ “Turn Back the Clock Night,” Sonics legend Lenny Wilkens threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday. He received a standing ovation when he was introduced. Wilkens coached the Sonics to their only NBA championship, in 1979.
Adam Jude: 206-464-2364
On Twitter: @a_jude