By Brady Henderson
The Mariners will play their 2014 home opener tonight after a season-opening road trip in which they went 4-2 and finished with a loss to the Athletics in Oakland.
Such as start would have been considered a success under ideal circumstances. But considering the injuries that have hit their starting rotation, it's about as well as the Mariners could have hoped to fare over the first week of the season.
"I told our guys it was a disappointing loss in Oakland the last game but the fact of the matter is we're coming home 4-2 and that's pretty darn good," manager Lloyd McClendon said, "and we can hang out hat on that."
McClendon joined 710 ESPN Seattle's "Bob and Groz" this afternoon. Here's more from that conversation:
Paxton's second start. James Paxton will take the hill for the Mariners tonight with the hope of following up his stellar 2014 debut. Paxton allowed two hits and two walks while striking out nine batters over seven scoreless innings in a win over the Angels. That was six days ago. McClendon said the extra day's rest should be particularly helpful for a young pitcher like Paxton.
"That first start for any young pitcher, they're going to be pretty hyped up, pretty pumped up, and afterwards they're going to be pretty sore. We saw that with (Erasmo) Ramirez," he said. "The veterans know how to handle it a little better. So I think the extra day's rest will help him somewhat. We're going to have to try to keep his emotions under control with this being the opener. We had him out yesterday; he looked real good, he looked real relaxed. I feel good about him coming into this game, we've just got to make sure that his routine warming up is where it needs to be building up to that first pitch."
Almonte's learning curve. The first week of the season has included a few positives from leadoff hitter/center fielder Abraham Almonte, including a .379 on-base percentage and three extra-base hits. There's also been one notable blunder – a base running error on Sunday in which he made the third out of an inning while trying to go from first to third on a single to right field.
McClendon said that was a teachable moment for Almonte and that such mistakes should be expected from a 24-year-old rookie.
"You have to live with them," he said. "You have to understand he is going to make those mistakes, but as he continues to progress he's going to get better at them also. And we'll be raving about this kid one day."
'I just didn't think that was right.' Spring training wasn't a week old when McClendon fired back at a Yankees coach who had made critical comments about second baseman Robinson Cano's occasional lack of hustle during his time in New York. When the television broadcast showed McClendon giving home-plate umpire Manny Gonzalez a piece of his mind after Sunday's game ended on a called third strike, it was another example of the manager having one of his player's backs.
"I certainly think there's a certain way that you do things," he said. "The umpire made the call – live with it, move on. The game's over, go to the locker room. But he chose to have a confrontation with my player, and I just didn't think that was right."