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<  Shannon Drayer

M's notebook: Kuma and team look to pick up where they left off

By Shannon Drayer

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The break was nice but it is good to get back to baseball. The Mariners held an early mandatory workout at Angels Stadium to get everyone back in the swing of things, so to speak. After a few days off it is always good to get the guys together and on the same page before taking the field for a game.

As it stands they will pick up where they left off, right back into the fire. While the Mariners spent the better part of the last couple of months enjoying the "best since April 23," the Angels snuck past both them (44-31) and Oakland (46-29) with a 47-27 record over that time. Thank you, Minnesota Twins.

The Mariners do hold a 6-3 record over the Angels this year, but the team they faced early this season featured a "struggling" (read: average) Mike Trout and had Josh Hamilton for just four of the nine games. The offense is now firing on all cylinders, scoring the most runs in MLB while putting up the best on-base percentage and third-best average and slugging percentage. In other words, the offense Arte Moreno paid gazillions of dollars for is doing what it should.

With all that said, tonight could be a challenge for them as Hisashi Iwakuma has given them problems throughout his career, giving up just seven earned runs in six starts against them. Not a bad idea at all to give Felix the extra day off after the break and start things off with Kuma tonight.

Lineup!

Chavez 9
Jones 8
Cano 4
Seager 5
Morrison DH
Smoak 3
Ackley 7
Miller 6
Zunino 2

Notes

• Reports on James Paxton's rehab start with Everett Thursday night were good and he will make his next start on Tuesday, this time for the Rainiers. Lloyd McClendon said that he would most likely make at least two starts for the Rainiers before returning to the Mariners.

• The starter for Tuesday's game against the Mets is listed as TBA. It will not be Taijuan Walker, as he starts tonight for the Rainiers. Erasmo Ramirez is on turn in Tacoma to start on Tuesday and is coming off a good performance. He appears to be the logical choice but McClendon said he has not made the decision as of yet and most likely will announce it Sunday.

• McClendon has heard the recent trade rumors surrounding the Mariners but does not expect it to be a distraction.

"It's business as usual," he said acknowledging that it can have an impact on the clubhouse. "I've talked to my players once about it, I don't think there is a need to talk to them again. We respect everybody in our locker room. We are happy with everybody in our locker room and the contributions they've made to our club. This time of year those things happen. Trades are made, speculation is talked about. You deal with it the best you can and move on and get ready to play the game."

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