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<  Shannon Drayer

Notebook: Who has the inside track for final bench spot?

By Shannon Drayer

PEORIA, Ariz. – In Friday morning's meeting with the media, Lloyd McClendon was asked if it was his philosophy that young players who couldn't be given a significant role with the team should be playing every day in Tacoma. His answer was brief and to the point.

"Those guys are no longer in camp," he answered.

So everyone in camp at this point has a shot? The belief has been that the loser of the shortstop battle between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, assuming he is not traded, would be the everyday shortstop for the Rainiers. While I would be somewhat surprised if this did not happen, McClendon allowed for the possibility that that player could find himself on the bench.

"I'm not sure. Not sure," he answered after giving the matter some thought. "We will see how it plays out."

I think the chance is very remote that we see both Miller and Franklin on the big league team, but I don't think this was just posturing on McClendon's part. This continues to be an interesting situation.

Should the runner-up make the team, then the bench would most likely be complete. If the runner-up starts in Tacoma, there would be one spot and Stefen Romero is pushing for it. After a slow start with the bat, he is hitting and has shown to be better in the outfield than expected. McClendon is intrigued with what he has seen so far, and with the team needing another right-handed bat, Romero will be given the opportunity to show what value he could bring. He has shown what he can do in the outfield, and McClendon plans to work him in the infield, at third and perhaps first next week.

"As we sit now and we try to make up this club and see what fits and who complements who, we need guys that are versatile, able to do more than one thing on the field. We need to find out more about this young man too," he said.

Lineup

Romero is not in the lineup today as he has got the virus or flu that has gone through camp and knocked out a number of players and coaches.

Almonte 8
Seager 5
Hart DH
Smoak 3
Saunders 9
Ackley 7
Zunino 2
Miller 6
Bloomquist 4

Elias

Zach Miner, Lucas Luetge and Yoervis Medina are all scheduled to pitch in relief.

Gotta know when to hold 'em

Opponents have stolen 22 bases against the Mariners this spring, and McClendon is less than happy about that. It is not the catchers who are to blame, however.

"Our pitchers have not done a good job and that is something we are going to address this morning," he said. "I think our catchers threw the ball extremely well yesterday but they really didn't have a shot. You can't be 1.6 (seconds) to the plate and expect to get anybody out at second. We have got to shore that up a little."

Spring training for the skipper, too

McClendon wasn't too worried about closer Fernando Rodney getting tossed from Saturday's game for jawing with an umpire whose strike zone was less than pitcher-friendly.

"It was funny because I think he was at 13 and I really didn't want him to throw more than 15-17 pitches," said McClendon. "I just let him go hoping the umpire kicks him out so I have to go get him so, and then I said, 'I am going to go out there and try to get myself kicked out so I can get the hell out of here.' But that part didn't work so well. I had to sit through that four-hour game."

McClendon said he told them umpire that Rodney was right, the ball was right down the middle, which it was. That was not enough to get him tossed, however, and he did not want to resort to colorful language, so the skipper had to endure the 3:43 game along with everyone else.

Notes

• Monday is the first off day since the start of camp and McClendon has given his staff the day off.

• Starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma will see the hand doctor on Tuesday and there is a very good chance he could be cleared to resume throwing.

Edgar Martinez arrived in camp this morning and Jay Buhner is expected later today.

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