Manager Lloyd McClendon, though, says don’t expect to see that happen too many times
The personnel in the lineup for the game Tuesday against the Angels was as expected.
With lefty C.J. Wilson starting for Los Angeles, the Mariners rolled out their lineup of mostly right-handed hitters. And the batting order was something manager Lloyd McClendon used this spring with Rickie Weeks at leadoff and Austin Jackson at No. 2.
But the defensive positions were a little different than expected.
Weeks, who was converted from second base to outfield this spring, got the start at designated hitter. Meanwhile, Nelson Cruz, the normal DH, started in right field.
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But don’t look for any conspiracy theory behind the decision, and Weeks said his once-sore hamstring is perfectly healthy.
“I just have Nelson in the outfield and Rickie DH-ing,” McClendon said. “There’s no deep thought to it.”
McClendon said when the team signed Cruz in the offseason that he wouldn’t strictly be a designated hitter and would get some starts in the outfield. Cruz has started 800 games in the outfield in his career and 696 in right field.
Is there an ideal or projected number of games McClendon would like to play Cruz in the field during the season?
“Mmmhmm,” he said.
Is he willing to share that number?
“No,” he replied.
Cruz often has said he enjoys playing in the outfield and jokes that playing DH is boring. But he understands he can’t and won’t be in the outfield too often.
“I just want to be in the lineup every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where. I like playing outfield. But it’s up to him how much I play.”
McClendon said he isn’t worried about Weeks in the outfield, despite a lack of action during spring-training games.
“He knows the speed,” he said. “You just put him out there and I’m sure he’ll be fine. He’s had plenty of fly balls and he knows the speed of the game. He just didn’t get a lot of action. We can’t run from that. He’ll play some left field. He’s just not playing left field today.”
Weeks is ready to play left field when McClendon pencils him into the spot.
“I’m ready to play, period,” Weeks said. “A lot of times for guys who play in the field their whole career, they always want to be on the field. I’m just doing what the manager says, and I’m DH-ing today and just doing my part.”
Weeks has taken plenty of fly balls at Safeco Field in his first two days in Seattle. He’s noticed a few differences from Arizona.
“The biggest thing is that the ball hangs up in the air here,” he said.
With Weeks not getting many fly balls hit his way during spring training, it seems likely the baseball gods will rain fly balls down on him in his first regular-season start in the outfield.
“Probably, probably, but I will be ready for the challenge,” he said.
• The Mariners announced the official rosters for their minor-league affiliates in Class AAA Tacoma, Class AA Jackson, Class A Bakersfield and Class A Clinton. Left-handed pitcher Danny Hultzen was listed on the Rainiers’ disabled list. He’s not hurt. This is a procedural move because he ended the season on the disabled list last season. Hultzen is healthy and throwing, but the Mariners want to keep him in the warm weather of extended spring training in Arizona to control the environment of his outings. It’s a way for Hultzen to continue to build arm strength and stamina. How long will he be there? There isn’t an exact timetable.
• D.J. Peterson will start the season back at Class AA Jackson. Last season, he posted a .263/.335/.473 slash line with a 12 homers and 38 RBI in 58 games with the Generals. There was some thought Peterson might start the season in Tacoma, but with Jesus Montero at first base and Carlos Rivero likely slotted to play third, Peterson is back in Jackson. That’s not a bad thing. He likely won’t spend all season at the AA level. Joining him will be Gabby Guerrero. The promising young outfielder posted a .307/.347/.467 line with 28 doubles, 18 homers and 96 RBI with Class A High Desert last season.
• Alex Jackson, the first-round draft choice last year, will start the season at Class A Clinton. He’ll be making the jump from Arizona Rookie League to full-season A ball. The Mariners believe his mature approach at the plate makes him ready for the leap.