By Shannon Drayer
Manager Lloyd McClendon's reason for pushing back the Mariners' pitching was not the same as it was before the All-Star break. We didn't get the "I want my best against their best" answer.
"I've said the same thing all year: when I have an opportunity to give them extra days I will do it," he said. "I think one of the tell-tale signs was my starter came off the break, pitched 77 pitches and was a little fatigued. When I can do it, I will do it."
The starter he is talking about is Hisashi Iwakuma, who came out of his last start early, at his request.
"It's for the benefit of the entire staff, not just two pitchers," McClendon said. When you can take care of them and give them an extra day, on their legs, their arms, just do it. My job is to look at the whole picture, not one start for anyone player. I know what we are doing is the right thing to do. It gives them extra days. It keeps them strong. It keeps them sharp from start to finish throughout the season."
With all that said, McClendon has not decided on a starter for Wednesday. Bullpen usage in the first two games will play heavily into the decision. They are somewhat short tonight with Fernando Rodney unavailable (and no, he has not been put in the corner because of the arrow antics) and Yoervis Medina probably unavailable also. If a closer is needed, Danny Farquhar will most likely get the call. If they are able to stay away from Tom Wilhelmsen, he could get the nod Wednesday with McClendon saying he could probably go 65-70 pitches after recent 50- and 55-pitch outings. If not Wilhelmsen, Taijuan Walker would be an option as he is scheduled to start Wednesday for the Rainiers.
Along with the pitching changes, the Rodney arrow incident was a hot topic in the media session with McClendon, who was not terribly concerned about it.
"I heard somebody say it fired the Angels up and gave them incentive to win the game," he said. "That's a bunch of baloney. They understand the importance of these games as much as we do. The fact is they had the best all-around player leading off and they had a Hall of Famer hitting behind him. That had a lot to do with them winning the game, not Rodney's arrow shooting. We all entertain. This is an entertainment business. Players hit doubles and they have all the signs they do and everybody has celebrations in the dugout. So Rodney shooting arrows is no different. In the old days, if you didn't like it, you'd go out and fight. We don't do that anymore."
I asked if there was any concern that there was a possibility that Rodney didn't know where he was in the game at the time, as catcher Mike Zunino suggested.
"I didn't know where I was half the time!" McClendon joked. "You play 28 innings, that's tough!"
McClendon was asked if he was serious. Did he not know what inning it was?
"No, I'm not saying that," he said with another big chuckle. "Half the time. I didn't say the eighth inning! So what. We lost a game, that's all it meant. We lost a game. We hit a line drive that was snagged for a double play. They hit two ground balls up the middle that found the hole. They won two out of three."
One last note on Rodney and the eighth-inning arrow incident: As I wrote last night, I strongly suspected that he – for a moment, at least – forgot it wasn't the ninth. Willie Bloomquist, who was my pregame interview today, thought the same thing. There was an interesting twist, however.
"I honestly think he thought it was the ninth inning there," Bloomquist said with a laugh. "One of scoreboards actually had ninth inning up there. When Howie Kendrick got on second base he made a point of that to tell me, one of the scoreboards had ninth inning, so I could see why he thought it was ninth inning if he wasn't paying attention."
Willie Bloomquist, 6
James Jones, 8
Robinson Cano, 4
Kyle Seager, 5
Stefen Romero, 9
Justin Smoak, 3
Corey Hart, DH
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2