Notes: Pentland's job never done

Notes: Pentland's job never done

SEATTLE -- Mariners hitting coach Jeff Pentland has delivered this season, producing an offense that's among the best in the Majors. However, such is the burden that goes with his thankless job, it's now a case of "what have you done for me lately?"

The Mariners have the second-best average in the Major Leagues at .287. They also are finishing up one of the most productive months in the past 50 years. According to Stats Inc., the Mariners' .325 average in August is tied for the second-best hitting month for a team since 1957. The Rangers also hit .325 in April 1998. The best is Kansas City's team average of .332 in July 1980.

But while the Mariners have continued to hit well, they have not been as clutch as they should be. Over the past four games entering Tuesday's contest against the Angels, Mariners hitters were just .194 (7-for-36) with runners in scoring position. They are 1-3 in those games.

"Obviously, you don't want to see them going through a slump this time of year," Pentland said. "There is so much riding on each game. But you deal with what you have to deal with."

As Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said when he came through Seattle a month ago, if you are a hitting or pitching coach, you have a miserable summer.

"You can never have nine guys in the lineup swing the bat well at the same time," Guillen said. "You can never have 11 or 12 guys on the mound pitching well at the same time. It's not an easy job. That's why I say coaching is way underrated, underpaid, under everything, underappreciated."

Pentland has a leadoff hitter in Ichiro Suzuki who is second in the league in hitting at .353. Jose Vidro is ninth at .323 and has the best average in the league (.390) since the All-Star break. Raul Ibanez is having a career month, hitting .432 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs since Aug. 7. Nine players have at least 50 RBIs for the first time, and the club is on pace for the most hits in its 30-year history.

But it's not a matter of how many, but when. Timely hitting is the most important element this time of year.

"The hardest part of my job is knowing when to go in there and do something or say something," Pentland said. "I try to handle it on an individual basis. They really have their own way of going about their business."

He offers two words for his troops as they battle down the stretch.

"Patience," he said. "Patience."

Upon further review: A Major League official acknowledged on Tuesday that the ball Ichiro fouled off in the first inning and led to manager John McLaren's second ejection since replacing Mike Hargrove should have been called a foul ball.

"After watching replays shown from the center-field camera, the ball definitely hit the ground," the official said. "That is not to say, however, that any of the umpires saw it."

Home-plate umpire Gary Darling said after the game that Ichiro foul-tipped the ball. Ichiro and McLaren both asked Darling, the crew chief, to check with another umpire, but Darling refused.

McLaren and Ichiro quietly returned to the first-base dugout. Several of the players watched replays and informed McLaren that the ball definitely hit the ground and McLaren threw up his arms. Third-base umpire Jerry Meals responded with his own up-in-arms motion and immediately ejected him.

"I didn't think I warranted an ejection," McLaren said. "It's behind me. I'm a professional; he's a professional. I'm moving on. It was an unfortunate thing. I didn't understand it."

New guy; new look: Right-hander Rick White, promoted from Triple-A Tacoma last week, had some fun with his goatee before the game. He had the team's hairdresser bleach it.

"Ideally, I would like it camouflage colored, with about eight different greens and browns in there. Wear it during hunting season," White said. "I'm just trying to spark it up in here a little bit, loosen everyone up. I did get clearance from J.J. [Putz]. It is his bullpen, and I didn't want to mess things up down there."

Mariners' log: Pat Casey, coach of the Oregon State baseball team that won back-to-back NCAA championships, will throw out the first pitch on Wednesday afternoon. The catcher will be Mariners catcher Jamie Burke, who played at OSU. ... Willie Bloomquist started at second on Tuesday in place of regular Jose Lopez. Lopez needed a rest and also is 2-of-15 against Angels starter Ervin Santana. ... McLaren brought in several of the veteran players -- Vidro, Jarrod Washburn, Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Ibanez and Ichiro -- into his office before the game. It had nothing to do with pep talks, but he just wanted to discuss the September callups with them. "I wanted to let them know so there are not any shocks and get any feedback from them," McLaren said. "I want them to welcome these guys. I want some good veteran presence to help every one of these guys to be a better player." He said the final callup list has not been determined.

On deck: The Mariners finish the series with a 1:35 PT contest on Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field. Felix Hernandez (10-6, 3.90 ERA) takes the mound for the Mariners against Jered Weaver (9-6, 3.96).

Bob Sherwin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.