Mariners update: Saturday, April 26

Today’s game

Opponent: Oakland Athletics.

When: 6:05 p.m.

Where: Safeco Field.

TV: Fox Sports Net.

Radio: KOMO (1000 AM).

Pitchers: Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard (1-0, 3.27 earned run average) vs. right-hander Justin Duchscherer (1-0, 1.80).

Johjima’s future set, but what about Clement?

The Mariners solidified their catching through 2001 by signing Kenji Johjima to a three-year contract extension Friday.

Where does that leave their best minor league prospect, left-handed-hitting catcher Jeff Clement?

At Class AAA Tacoma. As a catcher. For now.

That was as much detail about Clement’s immediate future as Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi was willing to divulge.

With the Mariners’ offense struggling to score runs and Clement hitting for power and average at Class AAA Tacoma, there’s been speculation that the club could bring him up at designated hitter or another position.

Bavasi said he’s more interested in getting the current hitters on track, and that Clement will remain in the minors as a catcher.

“We’re not giving up on him as a catcher,” Bavasi said. “A left-handed hitting catcher with power, those are real tough to find. This doesn’t change Jeff’s track to the big leagues much at all.”

What could change it is a continued slump by the offense, particularly right fielder Brad Wilkerson and DH Jose Vidro, provided Clement continues to hit. Going into Friday’s game at Tucson, Clement was the Tacoma Rainiers’ most productive player with five home runs, 16 RBI and team-leading .375 average.

“When I saw Jeff early in the year, he was locked in,” Bavasi said. “He’s close. It’s nice when they’re tearing it up, but you still have to have a need here. Right now, we’re still trying to get this 25 to all be healthy and all click on what we think are all cylinders. If that’s not enough, then we’ll go out and get him.”

Then the question will be what position will Clement play?

“This guys is a catcher and he’s going to catch well,” Bavasi said. “But if Kenji is still tearing it up and this guy’s bat is forcing him into the big leagues, then we’re going to have to call some sort of audible. Somebody is going to look at another position. It might be him, it might be Kenji, it might be both of them. Luckily for us, in the American League we have the DH to play with.”

Johjima is secure with the Mariners through the 2011 season after signing an extension worth $24 million, according to the Associated Press.

Johjima, who became the first Japanese catcher to play in the major leagues, said he never considered testing the free agent market after this season.

“This was the team that gave me the chance to play in the major leagues,” he said. “The team took a big risk because it was the first team to sign a Japanese catcher. I respect that and I want to play here.”

Johjima and the Mariners had been working on the extension since spring training. Although he said it wasn’t a factor in his early hitting struggles — he entered Friday batting .200 with no home runs and five RBI — the Mariners believe it will help him focus on his play.

“I know it’s been on his mind since spring training,” manager John McLaren said. “Hopefully it’s behind him and he can play relaxed baseball.”

Someone must go: The Mariners must make a roster move when they bring left-hander Erik Bedard off the disabled list to start tonight’s game.

One possibility is right-handed reliever Roy Corcoran, who was called up from Class AAA Tacoma when J.J. Putz went on the DL April 2. Corcoran has pitched well, however, 1.69 ERA in 102/3 innings entering Friday.

Another is seldom-used right-hander Cha Seung Baek, whose relief outing Friday was his first time in a game since April 13. Baek is out of minor league options and the Mariners would risk losing him on a waiver claim.

“It’s a tough decision and I don’t know if we’ve made it yet,” McLaren said. “We talked about it last night, we talked today and I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Who’s that frog? A local high school tennis player, that’s who

Arlington tennis player Robbie Balderas worked as AquaSox mascot Webbly this season, and the busy junior also runs a landscaping business.

Mountlake Terrace’s Zaveon Jones is pulled to the ground by a diving Nicholas Mouser of Monroe on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, at Monroe High School in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Swarming Monroe defense keys win over Terrace in Wesco 3A South showdown

The Bearcats slow down the Hawks’ potent ground game, and quarterback Blake Springer tosses three TDs in a 35-10 victory.

Arlington players lift the Stilly Cup in the air after beating Stanwood on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington re-claims Stilly Cup after short hiatus, routs Stanwood 42-7

Leyton Martin registers 277 yards, 4 TDs as Eagles notch fifth straight game with at least six TDs.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Marysville Pilchuck’s Dominik Kendrick (9) runs with the ball during a football game between Marysville Pilchuck and Stanwood at Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023. Marysville Pilchuck takes the win, 36-7. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Marysville Pilchuck proud of 4-0 start, but has loftier goals

The Tomahawks aren’t listening to the outside noise, including a No. 1 WIAA RPI ranking, as a tough stretch lies ahead.

Stanwood players react to their coach bringing them the Stilly Cup on Sept. 30, 2022 in Arlington. The Spartans snapped a 12-game losing streak in the rivalry matchup last year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
4 games to watch in Week 5 of the prep football season

An in-depth look at the best games the area has to offer, plus a full schedule of the local action in Week 5.

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29

Prep roundup for Friday, Sept. 29: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Houston Astros relief pitcher Hector Neris (50) gestures to Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez (44) after striking Rodríguez out to end the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
MLB investigating Astros pitcher’s alleged use of homophobic slur

The incident occurred during a heated exchange between Houston’s Hector Neris and M’s star Julio Rodriguez on Wednesday night.

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28

Prep roundup for Thursday, Sept. 28: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Most Read