M’s notebook: Morrison gets first start in right field

OAKLAND, Calif. — Logan Morrison sought to keep it simple Thursday night for his first big-league appearance in right field when the Mariners opened a four-game series against the A’s at spacious O.co Coliseum.

“I’m just going to try to get to the ball as fast as I can,” he said, “and get it in as fast as I can. If I can catch it, I’ll catch it. If I can’t, I’ll still try to get it in as fast as I can.

“I’m not going to try to be (Roberto) Clemente or Vlad (Guerrero) out there. They have way better arms than me. They’re way better looking.”

That last bit is the oft-noted LoMo wit.

“I played outfield for two years in the big leagues,” Morrison added. “(It was) left field, but it’s not that much different than right.”

Morrison played 240 games for the Marlins in left field from 2010-12 before shifting to first base. He worked this spring in right field on a limited basis and showed enough, apparently, to merit a start at O.co.

“He was a lot better (defensively in spring training) than he came advertised,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s not going to win a Gold Glove, but he’s not as bad as the reports.

“I like LoMo’s (left-handed) bat against this guy, (A’s right-handed starter Jesse Chavez), and I’m trying to get as much offense as I can.”

With Corey Hart again serving as the DH, that meant the only way to get Morrison’s bat was in tandem with his glove. No problem, Morrison contends.

“You throw it to the guy with the hands up and let them do the work,” he said. “That’s how I like to get my assists.”

Hart starts again

Hart’s encouraging performance Wednesday, when he went 2-for-5 with a home run, earned him a third straight start.

“Corey’s at-bats got progressive better throughout the night,” McClendon said. “He capped it off (with a homer). It was really good to see that. We need him to be successful if we’re going to be successful.”

Hart missed time in spring training while battling forearm and back soreness. That limited his ability to hone his timing after missing all of last season while recovering from surgery on both knees.

“I’m still working my way to trying to be comfortable all of the time,” he said. “But it’s coming. It’s getting there. I’m working with HoJo (hitting coach Howard Johnson) religiously. He won’t stop until I get it going.”

Rookie starters

When lefty Roenis Elias started Thursday’s series opener against the A’s, it marked the first time the Mariners started rookies in two of their first four games since their inaugural 1977 season.

Rookie James Paxton worked seven shutout innings Wednesday in an 8-2 victory at Los Angeles that completed a three-game sweep. Those two rookies in 1977: Enrique Romo started (and lost) the second game, and Gary Wheelock started (and won) the fourth game. Both came in a five-game series against the Angels at the Kingdome.

Romo yielded just two runs in seven innings but lost 2-0 to Nolan Ryan, who pitched a three-hit complete game. Wheelock allowed one run in six innings in a 5-1 victory.

Looking back

It was 25 years ago Thursday — April 3, 1989 — that Ken Griffey Jr. made his major-league debut. It was the season opener, here at what was then known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Griffey began his career by driving a one-out double into the left-center gap against A’s right-hander Dave Stewart in the first inning. Griffey finished 1-for-3 with a walk.

The Mariners lost 3-2. Mark Langston pitched a complete game but gave up a two-run homer to Mark McGwire. Dennis Eckersley retired the final four Mariners for a save.

Minor details

— Right-hander Taijuan Walker begins his minor-league rehab assignment Friday at Class A High Desert against Inland Empire (Angels) in Adelanto, Calif.

Walker made three spring starts in minor-league games in his recovery from bursitis in his shoulder, which put him on a seven-day restriction from throwing in early March.

— Class AAA Tacoma added outfielder Xavier Avery and left-handed pitcher Clay Rapada to its roster prior to Thursday’s season opener against Albuquerque at Cheney Stadium.

Infielder Gabriel Noriega was transferred to Class AA Jackson, and righty reliever Ramon Ramirez was placed on the disabled list.

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