By Shannon Drayer
NEW YORK – The skies have cleared, the winds have calmed and the Mariners will play baseball tonight.
Five inches of rain fell on Central Park in 24 hours and we were in a lot of it. Tonight's game will not be threatened, however, and it will be Roenis Elias taking the hill rather than Felix Hernandez, who was originally slated to pitch. Manager Lloyd McClendon said he considered sticking with Felix tonight but ultimately felt the best move would be to push everyone forward and give them the extra day of rest.
"It just makes sense," McClendon said.
But wouldn't he want Felix on the hill at Yankee Stadium, where he has put up some of his best numbers in recent years?
"It's alright," McClendon answered. "Felix has been taxed quite a bit, he's pitched on regular rest for quite awhile. It's an opportunity to get him where we need him to be. His last two outings have not been sterling outings, I think we all would agree. This gives us a chance to freshen him up and get him back on the right track."
It still seems like a bit of an odd move all things considered, but we may not know all things. I would imagine pitching coach Rick Waits and trainer Rick Griffin had input on this and they saw this as an opportunity they should take that could pay off in the long run.
Michael Saunders, 8
Stefen Romero, 9
Robinson Cano, 4
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Justim Smoak, 3
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2
Brad Miller, 6
McClendon going with a left-right-left lineup against the righty Hiroki Kuroda tonight. Interestingly enough, the Mariners have struggled against righties, going just 4 for 11 against right-handed starters.
Abraham Almonte sits again.
"I'm just trying to put him in more favorable matchups, that's all," McClendon said. "See if we can get him going. He just needs positive results. He's working his tail off to try and get it straightened out and it's just not happening now."
Brad Miller is back in the lineup but hitting ninth, replaced by Stefen Romero in the two spot. While Romero hasn't put up the numbers, McClendon and others like what they have seen from him at the plate. He has been hitting the ball hard, just at people.
Corey Hart has reached base in 12 straight games.
• McClendon's good friend and mentor, former Tigers manager Jim Leyland, is here. Leyland's plan was to surprise McClendon and show up in the first row for the game Wednesday but the rainout prevented that from happening. Leyland was on the field behind the batting cage for the Mariners' batting practice tonight.
• Felix had a heck of a day off. Did you see this?
Jordan is Felix's barber and as you can see, barber to the stars and athletes. You may remember he made an appearance at spring training and caused a bit of a ruckus, heckling Felix during his minor-league start. I chatted briefly with Felix about hanging out with this crew and today's travel outfit (Ichiro would be proud) and it sounds like he really enjoyed his extra day off.
• Speaking of Ichiro, I went over to the Yankees' clubhouse to say hi to him and was greeted warmly. Ichiro seemed relaxed despite the fact that he is not playing every day. "I'm bored," he said when I asked how he was doing. He has had a handful of starts and has been used quite a bit as a defensive replacement, no doubt a big adjustment for him, but he seems to be handling it as well as could be expected.
• McClendon finally made it official: Hisashi Iwakuma will make his first start of the season Saturday in Houston. This move puts him right behind Felix in the rotation but will keep him from pitching one of the four games in Oakland next week.