SEATTLE -- Chris Gimenez wound up on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday, but the Mariners backup earned considerable respect from his manager and teammates after gutting out the final six innings Tuesday while playing with a strained oblique muscle in his side.
Gimenez was hurting so much that manager Eric Wedge told him not to swing in his final at-bat, so he twice tried to lay down a bunt with two outs and runners on first and second in the seventh inning.
Gimenez said he knew that move would raise eyebrows, but Wedge vowed he'd "clear his name" afterward by explaining the situation.
"I was ticked, because I felt utterly helpless and I'm trying to bunt with two outs -- That's not baseball," Gimenez said. "I just got as close as I possibly could to the plate and was just, 'C'mon, just please hit me.'
"I got to 3-2, and thought I actually had a shot, but he throws one right down the middle of the plate. What are you going to do? Everybody is booing me and I'm thinking, 'This is friggin' great.' Everybody thinks I'm the biggest idiot. But I swear to God, there was a reason for it."
The reason was enough to land Gimenez on the disabled list for the first time in his career, which was equally painful for the 28-year-old, who has played just 16 games as Miguel Olivo's backup this season.
Gimenez said he felt something tweak in his side during batting practice before Tuesday's game and he immediately stopped and had it checked out by trainer Rick Griffin, then hoped nothing would go wrong with the durable Olivo.
But Olivo's hamstring cramped up in the third inning and Gimenez found himself in the game, hoping for the best. He said one throw back to pitcher Michael Pineda let him know it was going to be a long night.
Yet with veteran infielder Adam Kennedy as the team's emergency catcher, the club's options were limited. Kennedy, playing third base, has never caught in a game in his career.
"That was kind of the big thing for me," Gimenez said. "I knew no matter what, I had to stay in there. I'm not going to put anybody else in jeopardy of getting hurt. Adam already looked like he wanted to puke just from the fact he possibly could have to go in if something else happened."
With Olivo still hurting and new catcher Josh Bard just arriving from Tacoma, teammates were joking with Kennedy about being ready prior to Wednesday's game against Atlanta.
"You should probably ask Adam what was going through his head those last four, five innings," Wedge said.
"I'm just very glad to see Bard today," said Kennedy.
Bard called on by Seattle to catch Wednesday
SEATTLE -- Veteran catcher Josh Bard was called up from Triple-A Tacoma and inserted in the starting lineup for the Mariners for their Wednesday afternoon game against the Braves after injuries hit the club hard at that position.
Starting catcher Miguel Olivo suffered a muscle cramp in his right hamstring and was removed in the fourth inning of Tuesday's 5-4 loss to Atlanta. He underwent an MRI test Wednesday morning and manager Eric Wedge was hopeful he might be available if needed for the 12:40 p.m. PT game.
But backup catcher Chris Gimenez strained an oblique muscle in his left side after replacing Olivo on Tuesday night and was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Bard played 39 games for Seattle last year and was with the team in Spring Training, so he has worked with the Mariners pitchers, including Wednesdays' starter, Felix Hernandez.
"He's caught Felix enough and was watching video this morning," Wedge said. "He's been around these guys enough, even this spring. He'll be fine."
Bard was hitting .301, with two home runs and 41 RBIs in 58 games with Tacoma. He missed the last three games with a toe injury, but caught in the bullpen Tuesday and told Wedge he'd be fine to play Wednesday.
Gimenez was headed for a MRI of his own Wednesday morning and Wedge said oblique strains can be difficult.
"That's a tough spot for any baseball player," said Wedge. "He's going to miss some time. That's something you can't fast forward."
Cust's breakout effort came on loaner bat
SEATTLE -- Mariners designated hitter Jack Cust said there were lots of reasons for his breakout performance Tuesday, when he hit a home run and double in his first start in two weeks. But one of the unexpected reasons was a borrowed bat from teammate Greg Halman.
With Cust riding the bench after a slow start this season, Halman gave him a loan during batting practice earlier this week.
"I was trying whatever. I've tried many bats," Cust said Wednesday. "But I liked it a lot. I was hitting a lot of balls on the barrel with it. My wife asked how things went that day and I said, 'Good, I found a sick bat. Greg gave me a bat and it felt unbelievable.'
"That's like the most positive thing that's happened to me in two weeks. I used it again yesterday and it feels real good."
Cust acknowledges there's probably more to it, including some tinkering with his approach that helped him launch a home run on the first pitch he saw off Tommy Hanson, his third long ball of the season.
"It felt real good," he said. "I got some pitches to hit and I saw the ball real well. My swing felt good. I've been working on some stuff. You don't know until you get in there how it'll react to it, but it felt good."
Manager Eric Wedge feels the biggest difference was Cust's aggressiveness as he was swinging earlier in counts and driving fastballs instead of waiting, which is something the skipper has been preaching to all his hitters.
"It was great to see," Wedge said. "His attitude has been great, he's still been upbeat, but he's been working. He's trying to get the most out of his workdays with his BP and early work. And you actually saw a little bit of difference.
"That's why he was in there yesterday. He deserved an opportunity to get back out there, he took advantage of it and he's back in there today. That's the greatest example of what we've been talking about."