Mariners notebook: Cano, Hernandez appear to be All-Star locks; Anyone else?

Staff writerJuly 5, 2014 

— Will the Mariners get more than two All-Stars — two seems a certainty, doesn’t it? — when the selections are announced at 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPN?

Second baseman Robinson Cano held a commanding lead last week in the final balloting update to determine the starters for the July 15 game at Minnesota. Cano is seeking his fifth consecutive starting assignment.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez also seems a shoo-in to be selected for the fifth time in his career. Hernandez figures to receive strong consideration to start the game for the American League.

But what about closer Fernando Rodney and third baseman Kyle Seager?

Rodney is far from definite even though he leads the American League with 25 saves and has a 2.10 ERA in 36 appearances. Only one other AL reliever has more than 20 saves.

“It would be pretty tough to leave him off,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “But you never know.”

Even McClendon is pessimistic regarding Seager’s chances.

“Seager is well deserving,” McClendon said. “Is there a chance he’ll be left off? Of course there is. That’s just the way it is. There are a lot of good players who get left off that roster.”

Seager entered Saturday ranked second among all AL third basemen in WAR (wins above replacement) and in OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage adjusted for ballpark factors).

Oakland’s Josh Donaldson led all AL third baseman, and ranked second overall, in WAR. Seager ranked sixth in the league. Seager ranked 11th overall in OPS+. (Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre ranked ninth.)

Will that be good enough? The answer comes Sunday afternoon.

Extra day for Hernandez

Felix Hernandez will get an extra day of rest prior to his next start. The Mariners announced after the game that his next game will be Friday against Oakland at Safeco Field.

Previous plans called for Hernandez to start Thursday against Minnesota. Club officials offered no explanation for the switch, although it positions Hernandez to start against the division leaders, and possibly newly-acquired Jeff Samardzija.

The Mariners now list the starter for Thursday’s game against the Twins as “to be announced.”

Reaction to A’s deal

Oakland’s acquisition of pitchers Samardzija and RHP Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs didn’t go unnoticed in the Mariners’ clubhouse. The deal went down late Friday.

The A’s surrendered a top prospect in shortstop Addison Russell along with pitcher Dan Straily, outfielder Billy McKinney and a player to be named later (or cash).

“That’s a real good team (the A’s) that got better,” McClendon said. “Obviously, those are two fine, young pitchers. They did a nice job of pulling that one off.

“I don’t think that really changes anything as far as we’re concerned. We just have to continue to go about our business.”

The Mariners are seeking a right-handed impact bat and have been linked to White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo. McClendon said he talks every day with general manager Jack Zduriencik about ways to improve the club.

“I don’t think Jack or upper management is ready to sell the farm for rent-a-players,” McClendon said. “I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t do that either.

“It has to be the type of trade that makes sense for this organization, that will continue to move us in the right direction. Do we have challenges? Yeah. Are we trying to fix them? Yeah. We’ll just see.”

Gillespie to Toronto

Outfielder Cole Gillespie is heading to Toronto on a waiver claim, one day after being designated for assignment to clear roster space for Corey Hart’s return from the disabled list.

Gillespie, 30, batted .254 in 34 games for the Mariners with one homer and five RBIs after they selected his contract April 24 from Triple-A Tacoma. He signed a minor-league deal with the Mariners on Jan. 2.

Streak hits 100

The Mariners have gone a club-record 100 games without allowing an opponent to score 10 or more runs in a game. The streak dates to a 12-2 loss on Sept. 15, 2013 at St. Louis.

The last American League team to reach 100 games without allowing at least 10 runs was Oakland in 2013.

Streak halted

When Charlie Furbush surrendered a two-run homer to Paul Konerko in the eighth inning of Friday’s 7-1 loss, it marked the first time in 33 games that the Mariners allowed more than six runs in a game.

That matched the longest such streak in franchise history. The Mariners also had a 32-game run from June 18-July 23, 1991.

Short hops

Hernandez’s streak of 10 consecutive starts of pitching at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs is the longest in franchise history. ...When Yoervis Medina pitched a scoreless ninth inning, it marked his 16th consecutive outing (covering 14 innings) without allowing a run. ... Rehabbing lefty James Paxton, who is recovering from a strained back muscle, experienced no day-after problems following a 52-pitch bullpen workout prior to Friday’s game. That leaves him on schedule to pitch two innings Tuesday in a simulated game. ... It was Valpo Day (Valparaiso University) at The Cell. That’s McClendon’s alma mater.

Looking back

It was 16 years Sunday — July 6, 1998 — that Mariners outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star game at Coors Field in Denver.

Griffey finished with 19 homers in the three rounds. Cleveland first baseman/DH Jim Thome finished second with 17.

Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez took part in the Derby but didn’t advance beyond the first round, when he hit five homers.

On tap

The Mariners and White Sox conclude their three-game weekend series at 11:10 a.m. Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field.

Right-hander Taijuan Walker (1-0 with a 4.50 ERA) will face ex-Mariners teammate Hector Noesi (2-6, 5.33). Root Sports will broadcast the game on TV.

The Mariners then return to Safeco Field for a seven-game homestand prior to the All-Star break. They open a four-game series Monday against Minnesota before playing three weekend games against Oakland.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

@TNT_Mariners

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