By John Boyle
A team in desperate need of good news got a little bit of that this week, but nothing that will help immediately. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Wednesday that James Paxton will resume throwing Friday, and Taijuan Walker will do so Monday. Both are still a ways from joining the rotation, but clearance to throw is another positive step.
Hisashi Iwakuma is getting closer to a return, which could mean the end of Erasmo Ramirez’s time in the rotation.
When asked if Ramirez, who has struggled since pitching well in his opening start, was in danger of losing his spot, McClendon said, “I would say that’s a fair assessment. I’m not sure what we’re going to do as of right now.”
The part of “not sure what we’re going to do” is likely McClendon’s way of saying that he doesn’t have any viable options to replace Ramirez even if he wanted to. Until, that is, Iwakuma is healthy.
Of note in today’s lineup, Nick Franklin is starting in right field for the first time in his career a day after playing three innings there last night.
“I’m trying to get a spark, he’s a bat,” McClendon said. “Hopefully he’ll go out and get three or four hits today, score a couple, knock in three.”
Asked if he was comfortable with Franklin, an infielder for most of his career, playing outfield, McClendon said, “Just as comfortable as anybody else out there.”
Dustin Ackley is also back to hitting eighth after struggling in two games as the No. 2 hitter. McClendon said he probably made a mistake moving Ackley, who had been hitting well.
“I was just trying to get a spark; it didn’t work,” McClendon said. “I was wrong with that, I tried. I like him in the eight spot, it was probably my mistake, I should have left him in the eight spot, because he’s doing very well down there. I’m going to do it my way, he’s going to go back to the eight spot.”