By Shannon Drayer
PEORIA, Ariz. – Good morning and happy baseball day. The Mariners are getting ready to face a team in a different uniform for the first time this spring. The game against San Diego can be heard on 710 ESPN Seattle and 710Sports.com starting at 12:05.
Abraham Almonte, 8
Kyle Seager, 5
Robinson Cano, 4
Logan Morrison, DH
Justin Smoak, 3
Michael Saunders, 9
Dustin Ackley, 7
Brad Miller, 6
Mike Zunino, 2
Erasmo Ramirez will get the start and is scheduled to throw two innings. Blake Beavan will follow and also is expected to throw two. Others that could see action include Logan Kensing, Lucas Luetge, Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel and Danny Farquhar.
Lineup notes and things to look for
Do not be alarmed that Corey Hart is not in the lineup. He is not being held out for any kind of health reason – his knees, of course, will be a concern and he has had back stiffness this week – and manager Lloyd McClendon said he will have him in the lineup on Friday.
The lineup for the first game is pretty representative of what McClendon would ultimately like to see. Leadoff hitter has yet to be determined but we know Cano will hit third and McClendon wants Seager to hit second. Hart in the lineup will push those after Cano further down and performance could obviously move others up, but there is really not a lot of mystery at the top and middle of the order, other than who the leadoff hitter will be.
Abraham Almonte, leadoff hitter?
McClendon has said that he is looking at a number of players for the leadoff spot and Thursday morning he listed names. Almonte, Nick Franklin, Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley and Xavier Avery where the players he said would get a look.
"We have got four weeks to figure this out," he said.
As for Almonte, who hit leadoff for the team twice last year, McClendon points out that he could bring a lot to the spot in the batting order.
"Switch hitter, tremendous speed, the ability to bunt, steal bases, first to home," he said. "That's what you are looking for in a leadoff hitter and he gets the opportunity today."
Pitchers on the mend
Taijuan Walker had no problems with his long-toss session Wednesday and the hope is to get him up on the mound in the next couple of days.
As I noted Wednesday, Hisashi Iwakuma's appointment with the hand doctor has been moved up a few days. Iwakuma told a member of the Japanese media that he doesn't know what the doctor will say but his finger is feeling much better.
Who's on third?
Third-base coach John Stearns is out for four to six weeks after surgery to repair a hiatal hernia. A decision on a replacement for him has yet to be made, but coaching third on Thursday will be new Tacoma manager and camp coordinator Rich Donnelly.
• With the 11 club-control players that were announced as signed Thursday morning, all players on the 40-man roster are now signed through the 2013 season.