Johjima To See Reduced Playing Time

GM Lee Pelekoudas says he's ready to make roster changes if the M's don't improve, and Kenji Johjima is told that his playing time will continue to decline as Jeff Clement gets his opportunity. Read on for more news and notes.

INSIDE PITCH

It's a new leadership group, but the team the Mariners have on the field remains the same.

In the past week, the Mariners fired general manager Bill Bavasi and then manager John McLaren, replacing them with Lee Pelekoudas and Jim Riggleman, respectively.

Pelekoudas has the job on an interim basis and Riggleman has been told he has a job through the end of the year. It's Riggleman's third managerial job, and his first in the AL after having guided the Padres and the Cubs in the 1990s.

It was Pelekoudas who fired McLaren, a good friend of 15 years, saying the team had regressed this season. It seems that the players are being given one more change to get out of their season-long funk before wholesale roster changes will be made.

"To give the players a chance to improve themselves as individuals and improve the team as a whole, we thought a different voice was needed to change that performance," Pelekoudas said in moving to Riggleman, who had been McLaren's bench coach.

The implication, however, is that Pelekoudas is ready to make some roster moves if the team doesn't rid itself of its worst-in-the-majors label.

BRAVES 8, MARINERS 3: Rookie C Jeff Clement doubled in the seventh inning Sunday for his first hit since his Monday return to the majors, then hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, in the ninth.

That wasn't anywhere close to enough offense for the Mariners, who lost to the Braves with Atlanta 1B Mark Teixeira hitting three home runs and driving in four runs. Seattle was limited to four hits and no runs through seven innings by RHP Tim Hudson, but got three hits and three runs in the ninth.

The loss went to RHP Carlos Silva, who hasn't won a game since his fourth start of the season back on April 17. He was 3-0 at the time but is 0-9 since.

NOTES, QUOTES

--C Kenji Johjima and manager Jim Riggleman met behind closed doors for about 15 minutes Sunday. Riggleman said he wanted to explain to Johjima why he might see diminished playing time at least for the duration of interleague games, which take the DH away from Seattle. The club wants to be able to see what C Jeff Clement has to offer while playing regularly.

--LHP Jarrod Washburn has left with the lead in four of his last five starts, but he hadn't gotten a win in any of them, including Saturday, when a 4-1 lead after seven innings melted away. Washburn, who also had eight strikeouts in that game, a new season high for him, got a tip from his college coach that has him with a 2.48 ERA over his last five starts (29 innings). "It was a mechanical adjustment I got after I called my college coach (Tom Lechnir) and asked him what I was doing wrong," Washburn said. "It was a little adjustment at the beginning (of the windup) that turned into something big by the time I released the ball."

--CF Ichiro Suzuki led off four consecutive games with hits June 17-21. So far in June he's started the Mariner offense with a first-inning hit nine times.

--RHP J.J. Putz isn't likely to be back immediately when he's eligible to come off the DL June 27. Putz, on the disabled list with a hyperextended right elbow, has begun throwing softly, but he hasn't done anything to put strain on the elbow, and he's going to make sure he's healthy before he comes off the DL for the second time this year. "I'm not anticipating... I don't want to say that he's going to be out until the All-Star break," new manager Jim Riggleman said of Putz. "But I'm not counting on seeing him until then."

--LHP Erik Bedard is tentatively scheduled to start Wednesday in New York, but if his back spasms are gone, he could pitch Tuesday because he only threw three innings Friday in Atlanta. For now, however, the Mariners were unsure whether Bedard's back will allow him to start.

--CF Jeremy Reed and CF Willie Bloomquist have worked their way into a virtual platoon in center field with the moving of Ichiro Suzuki to right field this week. "You could call it a platoon," manager Jim Riggleman said while reserving the right to do what he did Friday, which was start the right-handed Bloomquist against Braves' RHP Jorge Campillo because he didn't want Bloomquist to get too rusty ahead of facing a couple of Mets' left-handers starting Monday.

--3B Adrian Beltre was in the starting lineup Saturday night, but was scratched at the last minute when he came up with a bruised left index finger. He also sat out Sunday's start, but manager Jim Riggleman said he hoped to have Beltre in the lineup this week in New York against the Mets.

--RHP Brandon Morrow missed the Braves series with back spasms, but Seattle expects him to be able to close during a three-game series in Shea Stadium against the Mets starting Monday. Morrow is the closer until RHP J.J. Putz comes off the disabled list, and RHP Miguel Batista, who had been starting but who was a closer in Toronto in 2005, will close until Morrow's return. Manager Jim Riggleman said he wants Morrow to throw on the side Monday and be ready to pitch in a game Tuesday.

--RHP Miguel Batista has been closing, but there's a good chance he will return to the starting rotation Tuesday in place of knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who has been hit hard in two starts.

--DH Jose Vidro fouled a ball off the plate that bounced and hit off the left side of his face in the third inning Sunday. After a few moments, Vidro was able to continue. He was the Mariner cleanup hitter Sunday with 3B Adrian Beltre (left index finger), 2B Jose Lopez (day off) and 1B Richie Sexson (day off) out of the starting lineup. It was the 29th time in Vidro's career he's been the cleanup hitter.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- The number of times RF Ichiro Suzuki has led off a game in June with a hit, a total of 19 games through Sunday.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just need to put clean games back-to-back-to-back." -- Manager Jim Riggleman.

MEDICAL WATCH

3B Adrian Beltre (bruised left index finger) was scratched from the starting lineup Saturday. He also sat out Sunday's start, but manager Jim Riggleman said he hoped to have Beltre in the lineup this week in New York against the Mets.

LHP Erik Bedard (back spasms) left the June 20 game in the third inning and his possible start against the Mets this week was in question.

RHP Brandon Morrow (back spasms) did not accompany the club on its trip to Atlanta and will not pitch until at least June 23. Team trainers felt it likely Morrow would be with the team in New York this week.

RHP J.J. Putz (hyperextended right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 12. He played catch for the first time June 18, but the team had no timetable for his return.

RHP Anderson Garcia (right shoulder tendinitis) opened the season on the 15-day disabled list. He restarted a rehab assignment with Class A High Desert on May 19.

RF Mike Morse (dislocated left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 14. He had shoulder surgery April 22 and probably won't play again this season.

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