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The lineup today features Rickie Weeks at leadoff and Austin Jackson in the No. 2 spot. We obviously asked about that because it’s a little different than what we’ve seen in the past.

“He’s got a 4:30 dentist appointment, so we want to get his three at-bats quickly,” McClendon said of Weeks “Really, that’s the only reason he’s up there.”

So Jackson is still your leadoff hitter going forward?

“As we speak right now, yeah, he’s my leadoff hitter,” McClendon said. “So we can squash all that right now.”

*** J.A. Happ will throw a simulated game today at 11:15 a.m.

*** James Paxton is scheduled to pitch Sunday in his first Cactus League game against the Texas Rangers. Hisashi Iwakuma, who would be on normal rest, is likely to pitch a simulated game on that day.

*** The back-up catching job appears to still belong to Jesus Sucre. Looking at playing time, roster make-up and consequence, his superior defensive skills and his familiarity with the staff, Sucre seems to be ahead of John Baker in the race for that spot. Sucre won’t hit much, but he can play defense and handle a staff, something that last year’s opening day back-up catcher John Buck couldn’t do to the Mariners’ liking. With Sucre established, how much will Mike Zunino play this year? Last season, he played in 131 games. But he started 71 of the first 89 games.

“I think if we can get him to around to the 140-145 range then he should be good to go the entire season,” McClendon said. “We probably played him too much early on out of necessity because we have a very tough staff to catch. We didn’t have Sucre at the beginning of the year.”

*** Jesus Montero has three hits in 15 at-bats this spring with six strikeouts. He isn’t going to make the Mariners out of spring. Montero made the first major step toward returning to the big leagues by dropping all that weight in the offseason, now he needs to fix some stuff with his swing and approach.

“He’s got to work on it,” McClendon said. “He’s got to swing it up. There’s a big loop in his swing. He’s going to have to make some changes and we’re going to address them. It doesn’t happen overnight. Baseball players are creatures of habit. You do things a certain way every day. And you ask them to make changes, and that’s tough. But these are changes he’s going to have to make. I certainly think he’s up for the task. He’s done a pretty good job up to this point. We are going to make him better.”

McClendon knows that the potential is there still.

“His rookie season in the big leagues he hit close to .270 with 15 home runs and 60 some RBIs, so it’s certainly in there,” McClendon said. “We just haven’t seen it and he has to get back to it. What kind of hitter will he ultimately be? I’m not sure. I certainly think he’s capable of doing what he did in his rookie year because he reached that and he should be able to go beyond it.”

Montero has gotten a little pull happy at times in his approach. Curveballs away and low still leave him lunging and flailing at pitches.

“I saw a guy a few years ago that had power to right-center and drove in runs, he should still be able to do that,” McClendon said.

 


 

 The Mariners commercials debut at 10 a.m. on mariners.com.  We got to have a preview of them. They are entertaining as always.

Here’s the link to them.

Asked about his selfie face in his commercial, Felix Hernandez deadpanned: “What face?”

Obviously the “Hawt Corner” commercial with Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen is a little crazy. The Mariners had so much footage of those two going crazy that they also made a music video for that song.

“Those guys are phenomenal,” Kyle Seager said. “You couldn’t have picked two better guys for that. They made it easy for me so I could be just low key and they just played off each other. They were awesome. They would just go on these tangents. It was crazy.”

Is Seager getting better at this acting thing?

“No, I had one line and was still out there for three hours,” Seager said. “I’m not getting any better.”

Manager Lloyd McClendon had just one line in the Robinson Cano commercial and he needed just one take.

“There was only going to be one take,” he said.

Wilhelmsen and Furbush were quite pleased with their performances.

“It was amazing,” Furbush said. “I had a blast. Goofballs, we’ll call us goofballs. It was 95 percent of us being goofballs and five percent of an outline for us to do stuff. We just had a free for all.”

Wilhelmsen, who is far from an introvert as evidenced here, is a natural at this stuff.

“There was no acting necessary for that bit,” Wilhelmsen said. “It was just the love of life. I’m really grateful for the Mariners. They’ve given me the opportunity to be a big league pitcher and now a rock star. Two dreams that every kid wants to live.”

This is probably my favorite commercial in recent memory. Yes, the appearance of The Figgins ruins it a little. But Larry Stone and I used to laugh at how Felix Hernandez would say Woody Allen in the commercial.

Here’s a link to every commercial since 1994

 


 

Linkage

Here’s the story/notebook I wrote for today’s paper and Mariners’ “river” of hopeful return. It led with David Rollins and had some notes on Paxton’s sim game. Here’s a link to video from that sim game. I did have video of Gabby Guerrero and Alex Jackson facing some of the pitchers. Jackson got to face Fernando Rodney, which was pretty cool to watch. Jackson is not a small human.

I also added game highlights to the postgame recap  as well.

ESPN’s Jim Caple is here and filed this for the Sweet Spot blog

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