5/2/2013 2:58 A.M. ET
Morse comfortable at plate despite finger injury
By Gregg Bell / Special to MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Most Mariners fans think Michael Morse has been playing virtually one-handed for the last three weeks.
After all, the slugging right fielder has had three non-displaced fractures inside a finger on his right hand since he was hit there with a pitch by Texas' Tanner Scheppers on April 11.
The notorious slow starter was one of the hottest hitters in the Major Leagues when he was hit, with five home runs. Nineteen days passed before his next one, and the Mariners offense slowed with him. Then, Tuesday night in a 7-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, Morse hit his second homer in three games -- on a pitcher's pitch, down in the strike zone. That provided evidence he, and his finger, are right again.
Thing is, Morse says the fractured finger has not been an issue at the plate.
"I mean, it doesn't affect my hitting one bit," he said before batting cleanup in the series finale against Wei-Yin Chen and the Orioles.
Then he added with a chuckle, "It's a pinkie, you know?"
Morse and his nine-fingered approach struck again in his second at-bat on Wednesday. He drove a fastball from Chen two rows into the bleachers in right field for his ninth home run to give the Mariners a 5-0 lead.
Morse said he's holding the bat with the bottom finger lifted off the knob area, so he feels nothing in the broken finger when he swings and makes contact. His power numbers for April were as if he never got hit with that pitch. His eight home runs tied for fifth most in Mariners history over the first month of a season. The last to begin with eight was Alex Rodriguez in April, 2000.
Morse, a six-year veteran, had one career home run in March and April before this season.
Now playing the outfield with the finger? That's been another matter.
"Of course I feel it; it's got three fractures. Really, I feel it more when I'm throwing," he said.
Still, he missed only three games after the injury and has played in 25 of Seattle's 30 games this season. He said going on the disabled list was never an option, for him or the Mariners.
"He's had to fight through it, but he's headed to the end of it, I think," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "He's obviously been noticeably better."
Montero thrilled to get first career triple
SEATTLE -- Six-foot-three, 230-pound catcher Jesus Montero got his first career triple in the second inning of Wednesday's 8-3 win over the Orioles, though it was generously scored.
His long drive hit off the heel of Adam Jones' leather as the Gold Glove center fielder was on the warning track. Montero chugged to third and scored a few pitches later on Michael Saunders' sharp single.
After Saunders stole second, Kendrys Morales drove him home with a single under a backhand-glove stab by Baltimore second baseman Ryan Flaherty, and Seattle starter Aaron Harang had a 3-0 lead early.
"I missed the ball. Doesn't really matter if you misjudge it, you missed it," Jones said. "So, you make an excuse no one wants to listen to it. I missed it and cost my team. That inning turned out to be a pretty big inning. I need to clean my [stuff] up defensively. It's [very] frustrating."
Whatever. Montero wasn't about to place an asterisk next to the milestone triple.
"When I got to third base I was like 'Wow, I finally did it!'" he told Shannon Drayer of the Mariners Radio Network.
Recovering Datz to miss Mariners next road trip
SEATTLE -- Mariners third-base coach Jeff Datz is still recovering from medical tests after being diagnosed with cancer and will not make the Mariners' trip to Toronto for a weekend series that begins Friday or to Pittsburgh for two games next week. Minor League catching coordinator John Stearns will continue to fill in as Seattle's third-base coach.
Wednesday, Stearns was still feeling his way around his new role. Before batting practice he was asking Mariners staffers where the bubble gum was stored.
Datz told the team on Saturday that he'd been diagnosed with cancer, but has yet to reveal publicly what type of the disease he's facing.
Mariners add Luetge, send down Beavan
SEATTLE -- Before Wednesday night's game against the Orioles, the Mariners optioned right-hander Blake Beavan to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled southpaw Lucas Luetge for his second stint this season with Seattle.
The move wasn't a surprise. Beavan struggled to start the season, and once he left the rotation, he was getting only spotty work in long relief. In 20 2/3 innings, he has allowed 19 earned runs and five home runs. He's 0-1 with an 8.27 ERA.
Beavan pitched 2 1/3 innings for the Mariners on Tuesday night, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks.
He was 11-11 with a 4.43 ERA in 26 starts with Seattle last season. The Mariners want the 24-year-old getting back to starting regularly, as they need more starting-pitching depth. Beavan will start Saturday for Tacoma.
Manager EricWedge said Beavan also needs to get back to throwing his fastball more while at Triple-A.
"Going down there is a great opportunity to get it all back together," Wedge said.
Luetge began the season with the Mariners and allowed four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings before he was sent down to Triple-A -- just as he was planning a reunion with friends and family from his native state on Seattle's trip to Texas and Houston, April 19-24.
"Yeah, that was the toughest part of that," he said. "I was like, 'Hey, I'm going to Salt Lake now. I'll have the tickets there instead."
He had a 2.45 ERA for Tacoma before Rainiers manager Daren Brown woke him up Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. with the news he was headed back to Seattle.
Actually, he never had to leave the city he now calls home. Luetge is living in a downtown Seattle apartment near south Lake Union, about a mile north of Safeco Field. He had been driving the 45 minutes or so each way to and from Tacoma for the last two weeks.
Wedge happy for much-needed off-day
SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge won't miss April, at least not its scheduling. The Mariners had one -- count 'em, one -- off-day in the month on April 15. They opened on the road and after sets in Oakland and Chicago, the Mariners played on the season's first 14 days. Thursday's off-day to travel to Toronto ends a streak of games on 16 consecutive days, from Seattle to Arlington, Texas, to Houston and back.
"These guys need it," Wedge said of the day off. "They've fought through it, in tough fashion ... and now we are most definitely headed in the right direction.
"Now we are going to have some sensible time off, instead of the ridiculous time we didn't have off this past month."
Wedge said he's never had a month scheduled like that, at any level of baseball.
"No one has," he said.
• Morse became the seventh player in Mariners history to hit at least nine home runs in the season's first 30 games. He is the first since Mike Cameron in 2002 to do that.
• The Mariners hit .302 with 18 extra-base hits on the 5-2 homestand. They had double-digit hits in six of the seven games.
• Justin Smoak is showing signs of a revival. He is five for his last 10 and has doubled in a career-high three consecutive games. His batting average is now .240.
Gregg Bell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.