Wednesday, July 4, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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M's Notebook | McLaren takes blame, explains Monday miscue

Seattle Times staff reporter

Mariners five-game planner

Today | @ Kansas City, 5:10 p.m., FSN | M's LHP Jarrod Washburn (7-6, 4.03) vs. RHP B. Bannister (5-4, 3.58).

Thursday | @ Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M's RHP Miguel Batista (8-6, 4.63) vs. RHP Chad Gaudin (7-3, 2.92).

Friday | @ Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSN | M's RHP Jeff Weaver (2-6, 6.75) vs. RHP Dan Haren (10-2, 2.20).

Saturday | @ Oakland, 1:05 p.m. | M's RHP Felix Hernandez (4-4, 4.11) vs. LHP Lenny DiNardo (3-5, 3.04).

Sunday | @ Oakland, 1:05 p.m., Ch. 11 | M's LHP Ryan Feierabend (1-3, 9.72) vs. RHP Joe Blanton (8-4, 3.09).

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New manager John McLaren had his hands full Tuesday, hiring a first-base coach and defusing his first controversy.

McLaren named Gary Thurman, longtime Mariners minor-league instructor, as first-base coach, saying he is "an organizational guy that's paid his dues, and I got my start by paying my dues."

Thurman, 42, played nine major-league seasons — including 13 games with the Mariners in 1995 — before joining Seattle as manager of its rookie-level affiliate in Peoria, Ariz., in 1999. He'd been serving as a minor-league baserunning and outfield coordinator when he got the promotion and will join the team in Oakland on Thursday.

Mariners batting-practice pitcher Johnny Moses will keep filling in as first-base coach until then. The first-base job became vacant when Mike Goff was named bench coach Monday.

McLaren accepted the blame for Monday night's miscommunication involving reliever Brandon Morrow. Morrow was unaware he was supposed to be pitching around Emil Brown by throwing split-finger pitches in the dirt with first base open in the 11th inning. The rookie instead challenged Brown, who drove in the winning run by hitting a fastball deep to center field for a sacrifice fly.

The Mariners already had visited the mound once that inning and had to communicate their strategy via dugout signals to catcher Kenji Johjima. One of the signals was a finger-point toward first base, reminding him the bag was open and not to throw any hittable pitches.

Morrow thought the dugout was merely letting him know that Willie Bloomquist had taken over as the new first baseman. After throwing an initial splitter, Morrow shook off Johjima's sign for a second one and threw the fastball.

"It was an honest mistake on his part," McLaren said. "Talking to Johjima, he felt like he should have gone out [to the mound] ... .

"It's no fault of Brandon Morrow's whatsoever. I'll take this one. It's just another indication that when you have young players, you don't take anything for granted."

New role for Sherrill?

Left-handed reliever George Sherrill hopes the change in managers might lead to a more expanded role. That didn't happen Monday, when Sherrill faced one left-handed hitter in the ninth before Morrow came in for the 10th.

Sherrill has held lefty hitters to a .109 average and .369 on-base-plus-slugging percentage (OPS) in 46 at-bats, while righties have hit .222 off him with a .488 OPS in 36 at-bats. He looks at those at-bats by right-handers as "practice" for what he hopes will be longer stints as the season progresses.

"We're riding the guys that are hot right now, and we're really going to have to do it in the second half," Sherrill said. "I'm expecting to be in there a lot, and I'm going to need something to fall back on."

He believes former manager Mike Hargrove was more "old school" and liked keeping him in his limited role, but hopes McLaren goes beyond that.

McLaren said Tuesday that he's going to discuss using Sherrill more. One drawback is that using Sherrill for more than one batter per game won't leave him available almost every night, he said.


• Forget about Ichiro taking part in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star break in San Francisco next week. Despite an ability to hit numerous home runs in batting practice, Ichiro said he doesn't feel the wind at AT&T Park helps left-handed hitters.

"If I had an opportunity to do the Home Run Derby, it would probably be in Seattle only," Ichiro said through interpreter Anthony Suzuki.

• Johjima left Tuesday's game after a pitch by Ryan Feierabend bruised a bone on his right hand . Johjima is day-to-day but will likely be out tonight.

Mark Lowe allowed a pair of hits in a third of an inning for Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday, his first game since undergoing elbow surgery last October. One of the hits was a swinging bunt, the other a bloop single. Lowe had a walk and a strikeout.

• First baseman Richie Sexson sat out Tuesday's game with a bruised thumb and will miss tonight's series finale as well.

For the record

45-35 .563


Home: 27-15

Road: 18-20

vs. AL West: 12-10

vs. L.A.: 2-7

vs. Oakland: 4-1

vs. Texas: 6-2

vs. AL East: 15-7

vs. AL Central: 9-9

vs. NL: 9-9

vs. LHP: 15-7

vs. RHP: 30-28

Day: 13-11

Night: 32-24

One-run: 14-10

Extra innings: 3-1

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company


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