"To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to," said Ichiro when asked how he felt about the trip. "If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying."
That quote has been buzzing around the fans' chat rooms.
After years of Cleveland jokes, the citizens there have developed a inferiority complex. They are fully in tune to slights and disparages. Many of the fans took his comment as a slam to the city. What Ichiro likely meant, however, is how tough it is, travel-wise, to have these stop-and-go trips there.
Blame it on nasty April weather. Blame it on the Internet. Blame it on misinterpretion, but Ichiro won't get Cleveland back.
Decisions are being made now on many of the organization's best prospects on where they will play this fall, and possibly next season.
The club has just about determined the final list for the September callups. Manager John McLaren would not reveal names or the number of prospects get the call, but said the team is, "Looking for depth, an extra catcher, pinch-runner and the chance to get guys out of the lineup when a game goes one way or the other."
The obvious choice for catcher would be 2005 No. 1 Draft choice Jeff Clement, who has had a nice season for Triple-A Tacoma (.273, 20 home runs, 76 RBIs). But Clement is not on the 40-man roster. The club might have to move someone off to get him on. Rene Rivera, who played with the big club all of last season, is on the 40-man roster. But Rivera has not had a strong season for Double-A West Tennessee (.210, five homers, 40 RBIs).
"It might be two callup-type dates," McClaren said. "One on [Sept. 1] and then after Tacoma's season."
Rivera is one of only two West Tenn. players on the 40-man roster. The other, outfielder Michael Wilson, is not having a good season.
The candidates from Tacoma include left-handers Ryan Feierabend, Jake Woods, John Parrish and outfielders Jeremy Reed and Michael Morse.
The Mariners also have six players heading out to the Arizona Fall League, which runs from Oct. 9 to Nov. 17. The six players who will play for the Peoria Javelinas are Clement, infielders Yung Chi Chen and Matt Tuiasosopo, and right-handed pitchers Stephen Kahn, Kameron Mickolio and Joe Woerman. Another player from the Seattle organization will be added.
The Mariners also can count on right-hander Sean White to be part of the organization next season. White, a Rule 5 Draft acquisition who had to remain with the big club all season or be returned to Pittsburgh, has been on the disabled list, likely through the rest of the season. He is now on his third rehab start, but Tacoma's season ends next week. He can remain on the DL through September.
The West is the target:
McLaren made it clear Wednesday that, despite this tough series against the Angels, the team goal remains the American League West Division title.
"We want to win the West," McLaren said before the game. "That's our goal. There are so many different [Wild-Card] scenarios that could happen. So many teams involved.
"Your focus is always to win your division. We haven't changed that focus. It's still within our reach," he added. "When you start looking at the Wild Card, you're kind of giving in a little bit."
Pat Casey, coach of the Oregon State baseball team that won back-to-back NCAA championships, threw out the first pitch on Wednesday to catcher Jamie Burke. Burke played his college ball at OSU. ... entering the game, Ichiro was four hits shy of 200 for a seventh straight season. Only Wee Willie Keeler (eight, 1894-1901) and Wade Boggs (seven, 1983-89) are in that realm for consecutive 200-hit seasons.
The Mariners begin a brutal 10-game road trip Thursday through Cleveland (one game), Toronto (three), New York Yankees (three) and Detroit (three). Left-hander Horacio Ramirez (8-4, 6.67) takes the mound against Cleveland southpaw Aaron Laffey (2-1, 4.76) at 4:05 p.m. PT Thursday in the makeup game at Jacobs Field.