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Mailbag: When will Morrow be a starter?

Mailbag: When will Morrow be a starter?

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The non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed and the Mariners still have some issues to deal with heading into the final eight weeks of the season. There have been several moves recently, but questions still exist and we are here to answer many of the ones you have. So send 'em in.

I thought that when the Mariners signed Yuniesky Betancourt, he was supposed to have blazing speed. But he's only stolen 18 bases in nearly 500 career games. What's up with that?
-- Dylan, P., Shiloh, Ohio

I'm not sure where you heard or read that Betancourt has "blazing speed," but I never heard that. He was a terrific hitter and defensive shortstop for the Cuban National Team from 2000-02. But there is no mention anywhere in the Mariners media guide bio that says anything about Yuni having blazing speed. However, he should steal more bases than he does and since the beginning of Spring Training, the organization has had former Mariner Rich Amaral working with Betancourt on his basestealing prowess. It remains a work in progress.

Are there any plans to get Brandon Morrow back on track in regards to becoming a starter once J.J. Putz has returned to the closer role? Since the season is pretty much finished as far as any hopes of reaching the postseason are concerned, it seems like a good low pressure environment to get Morrow and Ryan Rowland-Smith some big league starts and start building towards a more stable rotation in 2009.
-- Paddy F., Co. Wicklow, Ireland

There are no definitive plans on when Morrow will become a starting pitcher, but manager Jim Riggleman talked about that during one of his pregame media sessions last week in Arlington.

How do you pronounce Jeff Clement's last name? Last year, the commentators were saying Cle-MENT. This year most are saying Clem-ENT. So which is it?
-- Mary K., Eugene, Ore.

According to Jeff, neither version you mention is correct. The correct way to say it is a straightforward "Clement," with no pause in the middle.

When TV viewers are shown the pitcher's total pitch count, it defines every pitch as being either thrown as a ball or strike and then it shows the total number of pitches. But what about pitches that are fouled off, hit into play, etc? How are those pitches added in?
-- Jordan L., Spokane, Wash.

All "in-play" throws from the pitcher's mound to home plate are counted as pitches, regardless of what happens to them, and that includes the pitches thrown during an intentional walk. The only throws that do not count are: pickoff throws, the between-innings warmup tosses and those made immediately after the umpire has called time out.

Carlos Silva and Miguel Batista have been big disappointments to the Mariners' rotation this year and I was wondering if the Mariners could send one or both of them down to Tacoma and bring up excellent pitchers Jake Woods and/or Ryan Feierabend?
-- Jim H., Seattle

While it is true that neither Silva nor Batista is having the kind of season the Mariners expected them to have, both pitchers have more than enough MLB service time that they must give their permission to be sent to the Minor Leagues, and the chances of that happening -- barring an injury rehab program -- are understandably nil. If every MLB player not performing up to potential was sent to the Minors, it would create roster chaos. Woods, by the way, was promoted from Tacoma on Saturday.

Even with the major struggles the Mariners have had this year, I don't think they are that far from being a very good baseball team. Having said that, what exactly are the Mariners plans for next year? Will they target guys like Mark Teixeira in the offseason, or will they enter a rebuilding phase? Any clarity as to what options the team is looking at right now would be helpful, since they were supposed to be playoff-bound and are now battling it out for the worst record in the Major Leagues.
-- Jared M., Yellowknife, Canada

I receive many mailbag questions like yours regarding decisions that general manager Lee Pelekoudas and his staff probably are mulling as we speak. Unfortunately, the Mariners' brass does not request information from the media regarding potential trades or free-agent signings, nor does it discuss any of its future personnel plans with the media. That being said, I would think players like Teixeira, who was traded to the Angels last week and is eligible for free agencyd at the end of the season, would be high on the Mariners' list of potential targets. But wanting a player, and signing him, are two different things.

Jose Lopez has done a lot better this season. I was wondering if he has made any changes in his fielding and/or batting approach.
-- Collin L., Kent, Wash.

Lopez has been one of the Mariners' most consistent players the entire season and I credit that to having a clear mind and healthy body. You might recall that midway through last season, his brother was killed in a motorcycle accident in Venezuela. Lopez was unable to attend the funeral and the tragedy was on his mind the remainder of the season. He lacked focus, to say the least. Against club officials wishes, Lopez played Winter Baseball in his native country, regained his confidence and he has been one of the bright spots for the Mariners this season.

What exactly is a waiver, and how does the "passing through waivers" process change after July 31? If a team wants to trade after July 31, what additional parts are added to the process?
-- Bob B., Portland, Ore.

The Random House Dictionary definition of "waiver" is: An intentional relinquishment of some right, interest, or the like. In other words, MLB teams put players they would consider trading on waivers, which lasts for three working days.

Between Opening Day, when the 25-man rosters are set, and July 31, teams can trade players without putting the player through waivers. However, beginning on Aug. 1, any player on a 40-man roster must clear Major League waivers before being traded. That is, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings. If he is claimed by any club, the club that made the waiver request can either withdraw the request and keep the player or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player and be obligated to that player's current contract.

If more than one team claims the player, the team with the worst record in the player's league gets preference. If no team in the player's league claims him, the claiming team with the worst record in the other league gets preference.

In regards to the question of Xavier M. about the fines issued to pitchers who allow a hitter to reach base after an 0-2 count, perhaps you should consider his coach was talking about a Kangaroo Court. The fine didn't have to come from the organization -- it likely came from his teammates.
-- Josh D., Monroe, Wash.

As you and several other readers have pointed out, the Kangaroo Court concept went right over my head. That probably is what Mr. Grimes was talking about.

One of my high school baseball coaches is Alvin Davis at MLK High in Riverside and I was wondering how he did with the Mariners. Was he successful playing with them?
-- Brennan L., Riverside, Calif.

Davis had such a stellar career with the Mariners from 1984 through 1991 that he still is called "Mr. Mariner." A..D. was the American League Rookie of the Year and an AL All-Star in '84. He finished his nine-year career (eight with the Mariners) with a .280 batting average, 160 home runs and 683 RBIs and is one of three former players -- along with Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez -- in the Mariners' Hall of Fame. Furthermore, he's one of the finest gentlemen to ever wear an MLB uniform and you are fortunate to have him as a coach.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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