Brandon Morrow lost his job Friday, replaced as closer of the Seattle Mariners by ... well, the Mariners aren’t certain.
“I talked with Brandon today. We’re going to keep him in the bullpen but not in the closer role,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We’re going to get him some innings and get him to where he feels like he can command the baseball.
“We’re going to end up seeing each game who’s the best available to close. David Aardsma will be in there when we have the opportunity, but we’ll look at other guys to step up also.
“It gives other guys opportunities to throw. Aardsma’s done a phenomenal job in the role he’s been doing. There will be certain games he’ll be out there, and other ones we’ll look at others, whether it’s Miguel Batista or Mark Lowe, whoever.”
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Not surprisingly, Morrow wasn’t happy with the decision, but after blowing back-to-back saves – allowing a double and a home run on the final pitches of the last two games the Mariners played in Texas – he knew he had little argument.
“I understand,” he said quietly. “That’s about all I can say.”
Wakamatsu insisted that coming off a 1-7 trip hadn’t panicked him or the team.
“The fact is that we were in a lot of ballgames that could have gone the other way,” he said. “To say the sky is falling and we need to revamp everything is not true.”
As Wakamatsu pointed out, if the Mariners had held the lead in the last innings of the last two games of that trip – they couldn’t – Seattle would have left Texas only 21/2 games out of first place.
“In general, we were in position to win the games we didn’t win. We’ve talked from Day 1 that we want to be in position to win ball games,” he said. “If we do that on a consistent basis, we’ll be fine.”
Morrow, he said, can reclaim the job by simply finding his command and doing it in games.
“If he goes out there and commands the baseball, he’s going to be successful,” Wakamatsu said. “It’s a tough situation. He came in and saved five in a row and was on track, then he had the setback with the biceps tendinitis.”
But for now, Morrow will pitch middle relief – the fifth, sixth, seventh innings – and the team will try to build him back to the pitcher they want him to be.
Betancourt back in lineup
Yuniesky Betancourt was back in the lineup Friday after missing two games, and now the question is did he hear the message the team tried to send him?
“We talked to him on the road trip, that there are certain parts of his game that he needs to clean up and improve on,” Wakamatsu said. “Part of the meeting today was that we’ll sit guys at different times, whether it’s because we think you’re not playing to your ability or you need a break because of struggles. I think in this case, it’s a combination of both.”
Erik Bedard won’t miss more than the one start he’s skipping tonight, and has been checked out by team doctors. His tender hamstring is nothing serious, but Bedard and the team were reluctant to push it too quickly for fear of making it worse. ...
Comedian Larry the Cable Guy, who had a Friday concert in Tacoma, dropped by Safeco Field for batting practice, got suited up in a Mariners uniform – with the sleeves cut off – and had players and coaches laughing for half an hour.
Seattle hosts Boston in a 7:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Josh Beckett (3-2, 6.42) vs. Garrett Olson (0-0, 2.57).