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Good morning from sunny Peoria, Arizona!!!

With the exception of J.A. Happ as the starting pitcher instead of Felix Hernandez, this sure looks like a possible opening day lineup for the Mariners when they face Jered Weaver  and the Angels at Safeco Field on April 6.

Manager Lloyd McClendon wouldn’t give any hints. But it sure seems to be something we could see that first game. He had a little fun with us because he knew that is the first thing we were going to ask. At first he tried, to lump the lineup on bench coach Trent Jewett as his decision. But we new better.

Is it the opening day lineup?

“I can’t answer that,” McClendon said.

Does he have any questions about his day-to-day lineup going forward?

“I haven’t decided that yet,” he said.

Does he like the lineup for today’s game?

“Today’s lineup?” he said. “Yeah I like that lineup. Yeah.”

Is it a candidate to be the opening day lineup?

“I don’t know, maybe,” he said smiling.

So that clears that up. But really some form of this lineup will be on display on opening day. You have the two lefty hitting corner outfielders in Seth Smith and Dustin Ackley starting. You have Brad Miller hitting ninth, which is something McClendon planned on doing – having either of the shortstops hitting there. I can say with fair amount of certainty that Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager will be the 3-4-5 hitters for the team. One thing is for certain. It will be better than this starting lineup from opening day in 2014:

*** Like the lineup, McClendon wasn’t commenting on the starting pitching slots for that first series of the season. The belief in looking at the way he’s got the starters set-up in the final weeks of the spring with James Paxton pitching the day after Felix Hernandez is that Paxton will be the No. 2 and Hisashi Iwakuma will be the No. 3 and J.A. Happ at the No .4 and the winner of the Taijuan Walker/Roenis Elias battle at No. 5. When will he announce that?

“I would hope to have that three or four days before we leave,” McClendon said.

Here’s the updated pitching probables

*** McClendon was more than pleased with the reports on Hisashi Iwakuma’s outing in the minor league game against the Texas Rangers’ Class AAA team – the Round Rock Express – on Monda.  Iwakuma tossed five innings, giving up two runs on six hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He threw 72 pitches with 44 strikes. In one of the things unique to spring training, Texas’ starting outfielder Shin-Soo Choo played in the game and led off each of the five innings against Iwakuma. He went 3-for-5.

“They were outstanding,” McClendon said. “He threw the ball extremely well – great command of the split, fastball was in and out and he really commanded the zone really well?

How did Iwakuma rate his outing?

“I felt good overall out there,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “It was different to face Choo each inning, but also good to face a Major League hitter in the game. I had a good feel with the split, it is starting to dive a lot. I feel like I could start the season right now physically, just all mental from here out.”

*** Austin Jackson, Robinson Cano and Justin Ruggiano all competed in the minor league games, getting six at-bats each.

“They came out of them healthy and each one of them had a couple of hits,” he said. “It’s another way to build at-bats. I tell my guys to go over there and take it seriously. That’s why we send a hitting coach over there with them.”

*** McClendon wants to see Willie Bloomquist play a few more innings of shortstop before the regular season. With a split squad on Thursday, Blomquist will likely start one of those games.

*** Jesus Sucre’s sore right hip is coming along. He could be back playing again in the next few days. McClendon said it wasn’t a serious issue.

Here’s the reserves for today’s game — Alex Jackson is on the gameday roster.

Linkage

Here’s my notebook from today’s paper and from the “river” of all thats Mariners and nourishing.

Here’s the Mariners spring update from the baseball info staff

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has his column “It’s World Series or Bust for the Mariners”

The Mariners are one of six teams on the cover of Sports Illustrated this spring. They have four regional covers, here’s a shot of the Mariners. And a link to the others

 

So the picture is pretty funny. It may seem like a pose, but this is typical every day behavior in the clubhouse. Hurricane Felix blows in and is screaming, yelling, teasing and tormenting for the entire day. Cano will argue and cajole with Felix at times, but mostly he just sits back, shakes his head and laughs at the spectacle. And Nelson Cruz can only watch and laugh.