Mariners avoid drawing umps' ire

Mariners avoid drawing umps' ire

TORONTO -- The mild-mannered Mariners continue their final road trip of the regular season on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre working on a streak.

Not one player, coach or manager has been ejected, and with only eight games remaining, the chances are good that the Mariners will play an entire season without having anyone kicked out of a game.

What in the world of Lou Piniella is going on?

"Someone asked me the other day if I mandated [good deportment] in Spring Training," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "What I said is, 'Getting kicked out of a game helps no one.'"

Even so, there sure are a lot of banishments in the game.

When Royals pitcher Zack Greinke was ejected by plate umpire Greg Gibson for arguing balls and strikes in the third inning on Thursday, it was the 65th time this season that a player had been tossed. One inning later, Kansas City manager Trey Hillman's ejection marked the 81st time a manager got the boot.

It's not that Wakamatsu has anything against getting tossed -- he was ejected several times during his Minor League managerial career -- but as a first year big league manager, he wants to build a solid working relationship with the Major League umpires.

"If you build a reputation ... it will come back to haunt you," he said. "I know there are umpires who will bait guys and that sort of stuff goes on, but I am trying to gain the respect of the umpires.

"I'm not throwing any other managers under the bus, and Bobby Cox is an idol to me and does a good job at what he does, but you have to be what you are, and I'm not a guy who yells, screams and throws things."

That does not mean that Wakamatsu won't go onto the field to argue a call.

Wakamatsu has had several discussions with umps this season, the latest being in the fourth inning of Thursday night's game against the Blue Jays. Aaron Hill was called safe at second base on what the Mariners thought he was the first out of a double play.

Second-base umpire Brian Runge ruled that shortstop Josh Wilson did not touch the bag.

"When I went out there, I said, 'From my angle, it looked like he touched it. Are you sure he didn't?'" Wakamatsu said. "He said, 'Ask Josh.' When he said that, I looked at [Wilson], and knew it was the right call."

Wakamatsu said he's "proud of these guys" for not getting so upset that they have gotten ejected.

He recalled an instance earlier in the season when the Mariners were playing the Padres in Seattle. Center fielder Scott Hairston was ejected in the third inning, and San Diego's No. 3 hitter missed the remainder of the game, which Seattle won.

"I will get kicked out when an umpire kicks out my guy or is baiting my pitcher," Wakamatsu said. "That irritates me to no end."

Pitching matchup
SEA: RHP Ian Snell (7-10, 5.03 ERA)
Changing speeds and a boost of confidence following recent talks with Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair have enabled Snell to feel good about himself heading into his final two starts of the season. He held a good Yankees lineup to three hits and one run over 5 2/3 innings in his last start -- the same lineup (plus Alex Rodriguez) that roughed him up for nine hits and eight runs five weeks earlier. Snell is 5-1 with a 3.05 ERA in his past seven starts. Snell has faced six of the current Jays players, who are a combined 15-for-41 with one home run against him.

TOR: LHP David Purcey (1-2, 5.31 ERA)
Purcey is in the midst of a late-season audition with the Blue Jays, trying to state his case for being considered for the 2010 rotation after a year filled with command issues. On Monday against the Orioles, Purcey allowed just one run over 7 2/3 innings, in which he scattered four hits and ended with four strikeouts and four walks. In two starts since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas, Purcey has gone 1-0 with a 2.02 ERA. His win over Baltimore marked his first victory in the big league since Sept. 7, 2008.

Tidbits
Designated hitter Mike Sweeney's left big toe, which took the brunt of a pitch in Thursday's game, was still sore on Friday, but Wakamatsu hopes the right-handed hitter will be able to play either Saturday or Sunday against Blue Jays left-handers Purcey and/or Brian Tallet. Sweeney has been one of the Mariners' hottest hitters the past six weeks, batting .400 (28-for-70) with six doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs in his past 20 games. ... First baseman Russell Branyan had to back off plans to field ground balls during pregame batting practice on Friday. He was feeling a little sore after Thursday night's BP. ... The National Baseball Hall of Fame has received the Mariners jersey Ichiro Suzuki was wearing when he notched his record-breaking 200th hit of the season on Sept. 13 against the Rangers. ...The Mariners are trying to become the 12th team since 1901 to play .500 baseball the year after losing at least 100 games. The most recent team to do that was the Orioles in 1989.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• 710 ESPN

Up next
• Sunday: Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 4-3, 3.70) at Blue Jays (Brian Tallet, 7-9, 5.39), 10:07 a.m. PT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 17-5, 2.49) vs. Athletics (Trevor Cahill, 10-12, 4.45), 7:10 p.m. PT

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