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<  Shannon Drayer

Mariners notebook: Walker, Iwakuma getting closer

By Shannon Drayer

The day has finally arrived. The Mariners will take their home field for the first time this season.

"This is the real Opening Day," manager Lloyd McClendon said in his pregame meeting with the media. "When you are on the road you don't have your fans. I'm sure our guys are anxious to hear their home crowd. It's nice to be home in front of our fans."

Before the game can be played their will be festivities. For the past few days, guys could be heard in the clubhouse planning their red-carpet runs. I am not expecting anything out of the ordinary, although I do expect Felix Hernandez will play up to the crowd in his intro.

The first pitch no doubt will be fun as well with the Seahawks' Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson, Malcolm Smith, Zach Miller, Jermaine Kearse, Bobby Wagner, Mike Morgan and K.J. Wright on hand for the honors. Also before the game former Mariner and current Angel Raul Ibanez will honored as he is recognized as the 2013 Hutch Award winner. Then the Mariners will take the field.

Lineup!

Abraham Almonte, 8
Brad Miller, 6
Robinson Cano, 4
Justin Smoak, 3
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Stefen Romero, 9
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2

James Paxton

Robinson Cano is making his Safeco Field debut and has saved something special for the home crowd. He has yet to hit his first home run as a Mariner. I would be very surprised if we didn't see this on the homestand. Something to look forward to.

With a lefty on the hill we have Stefen Romero in right. McClendon was asked about the platoon he had in right and he bristled a little bit at the question.

"I don't think I really have a platoon situation right now," he said. "We have two lefties out there right now. I'm just trying to find the best matchups and if somebody gets hot they will stay in there."

Notes

• LHP James Paxton has thrown 16 straight scoreless innings, including seven last week against the Angels.

• RHP Hisashi Iwakuma will have his first mound session Wednesday. He is scheduled to throw 30 pitches. A return date has yet to be set. "I think it is going to be a session-to-session thing with Iwakuma just like it was with Walker," McClendon said. "If I had to guess I would think his progression would probably be a little faster, but having said that I think we are still going to be very cautious with him."

• RHP Taijuan Walker's next appearance on a mound will be for Double-A Jackson and most likely come Wednesday. There is a possibility he could return to the Mariners if that outing goes well but the team may elect to have him make one more rehab start.

Hernandez, Erasmo Ramirez and Paxton are the listed starters for the three-game series against Oakland. Just a reminder: Friday is a Supreme Court night.

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