While the Mariners were aware they had seen different approach and style when they signed Kenji Johjima to catch, they had to be surprised by his thinking in the later innings of a 13-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
With the game long gone, Johjima called for some pitches in locations that Seattle scouting reports said to avoid. The idea, according to Johjima, was to see how accurate the reports were, to see if there might be an advantage gained in upcoming games.
Manager Mike Hargrove said, "I'd never heard of that one before."
An American League scout called it "something new."
"It's not what you'd expect with a game going on," he said. "But when you think of it, it makes some sense. It's really creative thinking, but I'm not sure you'll see a lot of it. It's just not done."
"I was not giving up on the game, be sure of that," Johjima said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. "I just tested a few things I wanted to try out. I wanted to see if we could find some things in that game that might help us today."
Johjima said a few Japanese catchers will do this.
"Not many, only a few, as a plan to help learn about other teams," he said. "Remember, there are only five opposing teams in Japan, and here there are so many more, so much more to learn about their hitters."
Johjima began his personal scouting once the White Sox had taken an 11-0 lead. He did not specify what hitters or what pitches were involved or what the results were.
"I learned that much of what our scouting reports said was right," he said. "But going by the results, there were a few times where I thought, 'This is different.'
"I wanted to make the game more than a game, but progress, something we can use in future games."
Bloomquist, by the numbers
With Jeremy Reed hitting .207, Willie Bloomquist started in center field against left-hander Mark Buehrle on Wednesday. Of more note, Bloomquist batted second, with Jose Lopez moving out of that slot for the first time this year.
"Willie has good numbers against Buehrle," Hargrove said. "He's over .500 (.571) in a good amount of at-bats (8 for 14). We're looking to jump-start the offense. Hitting him second has everything to do with Willie and nothing to do with Lopez."
Bloomquist went 1 for 4.
In the same vein, Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen started Chris Widger at catcher because he was hitting .444 (4 for 9) against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn, while first-stringer A.J. Pierzynski had been 0 for 7.
Majors debut for local ump
Mike Muchlinski of Ephrata made his major-league debut as a home-plate umpire in Wednesday's game. The 29-year-old graduate of the University of Washington worked his first game Monday at second base, then moved to first and was calling balls and strikes Wednesday night.
Muchlinski has worked in the Arizona Fall League, Northwest and Carolina leagues, Class AA and, for the past three seasons, the Pacific Coast League. He umpired major-league exhibition games the past three springs, as well. Over the weekend, umpire supervisor Richie Garcia called to tell him he would work a stretch of major-league games as a substitute.
• Hargrove admitted he had set goals for the start of the season. But he refused to divulge them.
Said Hargrove: "I was told by [the Pacific Institute's] Lou Tice here in Seattle years ago when I was with Texas, one of the worst things you can do is make your goals public; it only adds pressure."