With the Mariners mired in a 2 for 33 with runners in scoring position and the injury to Michael Saunders we have a bit of a different lineup tonight. Corey Hart is out of the lineup for the first time since returning from the DL. Lloyd McClendon believes he just needs a day off.
"It's a little frustrating for him right now I think," he said. "He's a little jumpy. Coupled with the fact that he missed so much time then he got hurt again when he started to swing good, he's just got to slow down. He's got to allow the game to come to him a bit. I told him in his last at bat, just slow down an relax. Stop trying to force the issue. And nobody cares more than him. Those are tough at bats. I do see some progress and I think if he can stay healthy and get out there on a consistent basis he is going to make a good run for us down the stretch here in the second half."
There has been plenty of outcry by a number of frustrated fans that enough is enough with Hart but the reality of the situation is, we don't know what he is right now. As McClendon noted it took awhile for him to get going coming off injury and when he was starting to feel it, he got hurt again. He is hitting just .200 since returning from the DL but 7 games is hardly enough time to evaluate a player after what amounted to be a complete restart. A measure of patience is warranted here and McClendon is showing that.
The frustration by the fans over the last week is understandable to some extent but again, we are looking at a week. And Hart is hardly the only offender in the runners in scoring position category over that week. Since the first game in Chicago Hart has gone 0 for 5 with RISP, Robinson Cano is 1 for 6, Kyle Seager 1 for 7 and Logan Morrison 0 for 6. It has been a bad stretch and no one has been immune to stranding runners. Obviously Cano and Seager in particular have been good for the majority of the year with runners in scoring position so this is out of the ordinary to see such stretches from them but Hart despite his struggles and in a far smaller sample hasn't been awful, driving in 14 runs in 38 at bats w/RISP. A longer look is warranted.
But a day off isn't a bad thing either.
McClendon going very lefty against Jeff Samardzija.
-The bullpen survived the Johnny Allstaff day with Dominic Leone and Tom Wilhelmsen the only relievers McClendon will need to avoid.
-Michael Saunders has been diagnosed with a grade 2 strain of his oblique. He has been placed on the 15-day DL with no timetable put on his return but McClendon said it will be awhile.
-Jesus Sucre will get his first start tomorrow.
-Willie Bloomquist is now officially the emergency catcher. On the road trip McClendon told him to get fitted for the gear and today he caught Chris Young's bullpen. It was the second time Bloomquist has ever caught. The first time, ten years ago when Bob Melvin told him he was the emergency guy. He never got in a game but he did catch one of Gil Meche's bullpens.
-When Mike Zunino heard Bloomquist was catching he sprinted out to the pen to watch. His assessment of Bloomquist's framing skills?
"Oh he was putting in a good effort," he laughed. "Only trouble was, he was trying to frame all the pitches that were thrown down the middle."