Ken Griffey Jr. debuted in 1989 vs. the A’s; now he’s headed to Cooperstown this summer.
It was no surprise that Ken Griffey Jr. threw out the first pitch before Seattle’s home opener against the A’s Friday night.
Griffey, after all, is the quintessential Mariner and in January was voted into the Hall of Fame by the baseball writers, and he’ll be formally inducted this summer in Cooperstown.
It was just coincidence that the A’s were in town, but it was against Oakland, in the coliseum, that Griffey had his first Major League opening day back on April 3, 1989.
His first at-bat was against Dave Stewart, at that point in the middle of four consecutive 20-win seasons for Oakland. Griffey crushed a double in his first at-bat.
So we’ll get our second look at right-hander Clayton Mortensen tonight as he fills in for Vin Mazzaro. Obviously, Mortensen wasn’t the most heralded of the three players the A’s obtained for Matt Holliday (Brett Wallace holds that distinction). But Mortensen can help himself with a solid outing because it looks like Mazzaro, suffering from shoulder tendinitis, could miss two starts. So pitching well tonight could earn Mortensen a second start.
According to Mazzaro, his shoulder started bothering him about two starts ago. “I didn’t really recover the way I normally do,” Mazzaro said. “I felt a little soreness. … I’ll get a few days off and bounce back. I’ll probably miss one or two starts. I’ll start throwing in five or six days. I’d like to get two or three more (starts before the season ends).”
He said his shoulder feels better today, but this is all new territory for him. He’s never had any shoulder or arm problems before, so he doesn’t know how to gauge the severity of an injury based on how it feels.
A’s manager Bob Geren said Mazzaro has to get through a side session with no problems before being considered for his next outing, but he added that there’s no thought (yet) to shutting the rookie down for the season.
Mortensen gave up eight runs in four innings in his A’s debut on Aug. 8 in Kansas City, and he was sent back to the minors immediately after that. Geren said Mortensen has terrific natural movement on his pitches, and that his key is just staying around the plate and letting that movement work for him (sounds similar to Trevor Cahill).
Two faces in tonight’s lineup that you haven’t seen for a while: Bobby Crosby playing first base and Nomar Garciaparra at DH. Geren wanted to get as many righties as possible in the lineup, as Mariners left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith is very tough on lefties. With Adam Kennedy showing some recent life at the plate (three straight multi-hit games), Geren wanted to keep him out there at third. But that guy is gonna need a rest one of these days, I’d say. …
Tonight’s lineups, featuring Mike Sweeney as a late replacement for Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle’s DH …
Another pretty pleasant night at Safeco Field leading up to Game 2 of this series …
The A’s are likely to have a special guest in the dugout for the second straight night — third baseman Eric Chavez, who’s on the mend from June 23 back surgery that he hopes will have him ready for the start of the 2010 season. Chavez’s wife, Alex, is from the Seattle area. He wasn’t in the clubhouse during the media access period earlier this afternoon, and though he was in the dugout for last night’s game, he wasn’t around the clubhouse afterward. I haven’t talked to him personally, but manager Bob Geren said Chavez looked good, was in good spirits and is eyeing a return to baseball activity in January, if not sooner. Next season will be the last of his six-year, $66 million deal.
No news was good news for the A’s on the Rajai Davis front. He’s back in center field tonight and hitting second, so apparently he’ll be able to play despite a fracture in the tip of his right thumb. Davis was able to swing the bat yesterday — the issue was throwing. But his thumb passed the throwing test this afternoon. “I was able to throw effectively and pretty accurate, compared to yesterday,” Davis said. He’s never hurt his thumb before, but in Triple-A he did have an injury to his right middle finger that kept him out a couple of weeks. I’d expect him to get an occasional day off to make sure he completely heals.
The upshot of it all: No transaction made by the A’s, and no extra position player brought up. So Geren still has just three non-pitchers on his bench.
Dallas Braden isn’t with the team in Seattle as he stayed back in Stockton to get physical therapy on his infected left ankle. But Geren said there’s a chance he might join the team in Anaheim for the upcoming four-game series there.
Without further delay, your lineups. With lefty Brett Anderson pitching, Ken Griffey Jr. is not in Seattle’s lineup tonight, but Mike Sweeney is …