The 2009 regular season is off to a good start for the Mariners, who have been in first place since April 11 -- their longest time spent atop of the American League West since 2003. Interest in the team is rising, and we're here to answer any questions you might have and will do our best to respond to as many of them as we can. So fire away. I haven't heard lately, but how are Tyler Johnson and Chad Cordero doing in extended Spring Training? Will we be seeing them sometime soon? -- Ed Q., Kalamazoo, Mich.
Johnson should be starting a rehab assignment later this week, probably at Triple-A Tacoma, and could be ready to join the Mariners later this month or early June. Cordero is on a slower pace, and I doubt that he will be ready to pitch at the big league level prior to the All-Star break. He has just started throwing batting practice in Peoria, Ariz.
Are the Mariners trying to sign Erik Bedard to an extension? It would seem an awful waste to have him for just two years. -- Ben B., Salt Lake City, Utah.
That was the risk former general manager Bill Bavasi took when he traded five players for Bedard a little more than a year ago. As far as I know, there are no contract-extension talks going on as we speak, and it would surprise me if there are discussions before the end of the season. Most Major League Baseball organizations -- and the players -- would rather direct all their attention to the season and not have contract talks become a distraction. Bedard would become eligible for free agency at the end of this season, and I do not expect him to return next season -- unless the Mariners blow the competition out of the water, financially.
I am not absolutely sure of this, but because Bedard lives near Montreal, I believe his preference would be to play for a team closer to his home.
I understand agents started using the term "quality start" to help secure bigger contracts for their pitchers, but does anyone other than myself see through this ruse? If a pitcher throws six innings and gives up three earned runs, as far as I can see that is a 4.50 ERA (which is typically right around the league average.) So I'd say that would be an average start, wouldn't you? -- Mike V., Lynwood, Wash.
The "quality start" was something veteran sportswriter John Lowe came up with several years ago. Lowe has covered the Angels and Tigers during a distinguished career, but I agree with you that a "quality start" by John's definition is more "average" than "quality."
Allowing two runs over at least six innings would be a quality start in my book. As you mentioned, however, agents definitely use that stat to boost the value of their clients.
By the way, the "quality start" is not an official statistic for Major League Baseball.
I was wondering why, in a televised game, Dave Niehaus only broadcasts the first three innings, but on the radio, he calls the entire game? -- Travis D., Maple Valley, Wash.
You are off just a little, Travis. Dave broadcasts the first three innings of each game on TV and then moves over to the radio booth for the remainder of the game, regardless how many innings it takes to finish the game. Dave Sims handles the radio chores for the first three innings and changes places with Niehaus at the top of the fourth inning.
In most games, longtime Niehaus sidekick Rick Rizzs works exclusively on radio, and former Mariners third baseman Mike Blowers handles the analyst duties on TV.
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Hey there! I am not saying that he will continue to have the impressive numbers that he has right now all season long -- no one can -- but as a Mets fan, I can tell you that Endy Chavez will always be fun to watch. Many of us feel he got a raw deal in New York. I am wondering (challenging) if the Seattle fans can get behind him enough to get him elected to the All-Star Game? What do you think? We'd love to see him there! -- Derek C., Lewisville, N.C.
The left-handed hitter acquired from the Mets last December in that three-team, 12-player blockbuster trade has been more than expected so far this season. Chavez filled in admirably for Ichiro Suzuki's leadoff spot during the first eight games of the season and has given the Mariners more speed in the outfield and on offense.
It would take more than Mariners fans to get Chavez on the AL All-Star roster, but he's the kind of player that would be a good representative in the "Final Vote" competition. He would get my vote.
Will Matt Tuiasosopo be given a chance this year? -- Hal G., Bellingham, Wash.
As long as Adrian Beltre is healthy and with the Mariners, Tuiasosopo figures to be playing for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. However, if the Mariners fall out of the pennant race prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, it would not surprise me if Beltre is traded to a contender, and Tuiasosopo takes over at third base.
I fully expect that Tuiasosopo will be playing third base on a full-time basis for the Mariners beginning in 2010.
Assuming the Nationals follow through with their intentions to draft Stephen Strasburg, do you think that first baseman Dustin Ackley has the inside track for the Mariners' No. 2 pick? -- Zachary G., Eugene, Ore.
With the First-Year Player Draft about a month away, the Mariners' scouting department is busy putting together a "depth chart" of potential players that they would take with the No. 2 pick. Ackley, from North Carolina, is regarded as one of the best position players available and would be my choice. He's a left-handed hitter with power and would fit in nicely at Safeco Field -- and other AL parks.
As of May 3, Ackley had a team-high and career-best 13 home runs to go along with a .384 batting average and 40 RBIs. Ackley continued his run up the Tar Heels' career-record charts and is currently first in average (.405), second in hits (303), third in runs (205), seventh in doubles (51), sixth in triples (10), fifth in extra-base hits (91), ninth in RBIs (165) and fifth in walks (118).
When a batter is unable to finish his at-bat and is replaced by another hitter on a 2-and-2 pitch -- which recently happened with Mike Sweeney -- and strikes out, who gets the strikeout, the original batter or the replacement batter? -- Danny C., Kellogg, Idaho.
Regardless of the count, the "replacement" batter becomes a pinch-hitter, and whatever he does in the at-bat goes on his record.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.