Mariners notebook: Chris Young says he has lots of room for improvement

Staff writerJuly 13, 2014 

— Even though Mariners pitcher Chris Young lost to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday, the first half of the season was a success for the 6-foot, 10-inch right-hander.

At 35, Young entered his 10th big league season having last pitched in the majors in 2012 for the New York Mets. He’s settled nicely into the third starting spot in the Mariners’ rotation, going 8-6 with a 3.15 ERA.

He’s having his best season since being elected to the 2007 All-Star Game with San Diego. But Young said he thinks he needs to get even better to help the Mariners make the playoffs.

“I’ve got room for improvement,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll continue to get stronger and help the team win games.”

Young gave up five hits and three runs in six innings Sunday in his 18th start. It was his second loss in a row. He said he thought he pitched well, and was doomed by just a few mistakes.

Waiting on Walker

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wasn’t happy with pitching prospect Taijuan Walker’s performance Saturday in Triple-A Tacoma.

“Five innings, 83 pitches and one strikeout,” he said. “That’s not a good outing to me.”

Walker is the No. 1 prospect in the Mariners organization, and is the No. 5 overall prospect in all of baseball, according to mlb.com.

The right-hander won his major-league debut last August against the Houston Astros, but shoulder problems that arose in February have prevented him from joining the Mariners full time.

He’s only started 11 games since then — 9 for three different teams in the minors and two for the Mariners.

“I’m not trying to bash the kid,” he said. “But how we go about our business, and our level of expectations from the minor leagues all the way up to the big leagues, it’s got to change.”

After the All-Star Game

McClendon announced the post-break rotation — or at least most of it.

Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch the first game back Friday, when the M’s travel to Anaheim, California, to take on the Angels. Felix Hernandez will start Saturday, and Chris Young will pitch Sunday. The Angels have not announced their weekend rotation yet.

McClendon also said rookie Roenis Elias will start the fourth game back, July 21 against the New York Mets. The manager has not decided on a No. 5 starter.

Rodney misses chance at 200 (again)

Newly-minted All-Star reliever Fernando Rodney had 199 career saves coming into Sunday’s first-half finale with the Athletics, and he’ll still have 199 after the All-Star break, after being denied the chance at a save in the loss.

His 27 saves are the most in the American League this season. The 37-year old has a 1.98 ERA in 37 appearances with the Mariners.

Paxton coming back

RHP James Paxton said his arm felt fine 24 hours after his simulated bullpen session Saturday, and is still on track to make a rehab start for the Single-A Everett AquaSox on Thursday.

The plan then calls for Paxton to be sent to Tacoma, where he will continue his rehabilitation assignment.

Minor details

Double-A Jackson right-hander Victor Sanchez was picked by Baseball America as its Prospect Pitcher of the Day after a dominant performance in Saturday’s 7-1 victory over Birmingham, Alabama (White Sox).

Sanchez, 19, allowed one run and three hits in eight innings while striking out nine and walking one. He is 5-4 overall with a 3.79 ERA in 14 starts this season.

The Mariners signed Sanchez, a native of Venezuela, as a non-drafted free agent on July 12, 2011. He entered the season ranked by Baseball America as the organization’s No. 7 prospect.

Short Hops

Seattle has a 25-14 record against teams with a .500 or better win percentage at the time they played, and a 26-30 record against teams that are below .500 ... Seattle’s .600 win percentage (20-12) in day games is the best in the American League, in large part thanks to Robinson Cano, who is hitting .347 with four home runs in the daylight.

Looking Back

It was 16 years ago Monday — July 14, 1998 — that Ken Griffey Jr. collected his 1,500th career hit in a 6-3 victory over Texas at the Kingdome. Griffey reached the milestone with a homer against John Burkett in the third inning.

Griffey got his 1,501st hit in the seventh inning against Scott Bailes. It was also a homer.

On Tap

The Mariners have a four-day break for the All-Star game, before resuming their season Friday against the Angels in Anaheim, Calif. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (8-4, 2.98 ERA) is slated to start against a pitcher to be announced for the Angels.

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