Notebook | Jose Vidro struggles but brings "protection" at cleanup
On a day that saw Jose Vidro deliver a key double in a game-tying rally, his manager offered an explanation as to why he keeps using the struggling hitter as his cleanup man.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Today | @ Oakland, 12:37 p.m., FSN | M's RH R.A. Dickey (2-4, 4.36) vs. LH Greg Smith (5-7, 3.62).
Friday | @ Kansas City, 5:10 p.m., FSN | M's RH Felix Hernandez (6-5, 2.83) vs. RH Luke Hochevar (5-7, 5.40).
Saturday | @ Kansas City, 4:10 p.m., FSN | M's LH Jarrod Washburn (4-8, 5.03) vs. RH Gil Meche (6-9, 4.67).
Sunday | @ Kansas City, 11:10 a.m., FSN | M's RH Carlos Silva (4-11, 5.59) vs. RH Kyle Davies (3-1, 4.71).
Friday, July 18 | vs. Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., FSN | TBA vs. TBA after the All-Star break.
OAKLAND, Calif. — On a day that saw Jose Vidro deliver a key double in a game-tying rally, his manager offered an explanation as to why he keeps using the struggling hitter as his cleanup man.
Vidro entered Wednesday night's game with a .213 batting average and a .571 on-base-plus-slugging percentage that makes him among the worst hitters in baseball. But the Mariners designated hitter came through in the fourth inning, lining a double to right field for his first extra-base hit since June 28 and only his fourth since May 24.
Mariners manager Jim Riggleman says he isn't trying to use Vidro in a typical cleanup role, but to offer "protection" to No. 3 hitter Raul Ibanez against right-handed pitchers. The idea is that Vidro, historically a good contact hitter from both sides of the plate, would make teams think twice about walking Ibanez or pitching around him.
"I know his numbers aren't as good this year," Riggleman said. "But he's still got that reputation that'll make guys think about not giving Ibanez anything to hit."
That news will not go over well with some fans, many of whom have expected to see Vidro released for some time now. Vidro entered the night hitting just .211 off righties and .222 off lefties.
Career-wise, he's hit .301 off righties and .305 against southpaws, but has had three times the at-bats versus right-handers.
Riggleman likened the situation to 1998, when he managed the Chicago Cubs the year Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs.
In games when a righty was on the mound, Riggleman would insert Mark Grace as the cleanup hitter. Grace wasn't exactly a pure power hitter, boasting a .471 slugging percentage that year.
The reason Riggleman used him there, though, was because Grace was unlikely to strike out. Much like Vidro, whose 32 strikeouts are third lowest among Seattle regulars who have played all season.
Ibanez has nine intentional walks this season, but Riggleman pointed out that none have come with Vidro hitting behind him.
Mariners catcher Jeff Clement said Carlos Silva's sinker Tuesday wasn't any better than some he's thrown this year. But Clement said it was certainly better than what he'd used against the Detroit Tigers in a five-inning effort last week.
"It just wasn't sinking as much and his control wasn't what he wanted it to be," Clement said of the Tigers outing.
Silva said he felt the pitch had improved and attributed the change to a mechanical adjustment he'd made with his hands while going into his delivery.
On Tuesday, Silva said it took several innings to get used to the adjustment. He gave up two runs the first two innings. But by the fifth inning, Silva said he was relaxed and notched five groundouts, three strikeouts and two infield pop outs in retiring his final 12 hitters.
• The Mariners will wait another day or two before deciding whether to put pitcher Erik Bedard on the disabled list. The plan now is to have Bedard pitch the fourth game after the All-Star break against Boston — which he'd be eligible for if placed on the DL retroactive to July 4.
But the Mariners would also like to see if his arm makes any progress today or Friday. If it did, he might be kept off the DL, then used in either the first or second game after the break against Cleveland.
Keeping him off the DL would give the Mariners more time to showcase Bedard to potential trade suitors. The Mariners need to make a decision by Friday since Felix Hernandez is coming off the DL to start against the Royals and a roster spot needs to be freed up.
• Ichiro hit two more singles Wednesday, meaning his last 33 hits have all been one-base hits.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
Read his daily blog at www.seattletimes.com/Mariners
For the record
vs. AL West: 11-16
vs. L.A.: 3-6
vs. Oakland: 4-4
vs. Texas: 4-6
vs. AL East: 11-18
vs. AL Cent.: 5-12
vs. NL: 9-9
vs. LHP: 9-15
vs. RHP: 27-40
Extra innings: 2-3
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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