Andy Sheets’ season stayed on a consistent plane Saturday when he was recalled from Tacoma and put into the Seattle Mariners starting lineup - for a game that was rained out.
“Last time I came up, they thought Alex (Rodriguez) was going on the disabled list,” Sheets said, smiling. “I sat around the clubhouse all day, they decided not to put him on the DL and I went back to Tacoma.”
This time, Sheets is here for the purpose of providing Rodriguez with rest, and the Mariners with insurance.
“Alex needs some time off, even if it’s just getting him out of games in the fifth, sixth inning of some games,” manager Lou Piniella said, “and we don’t have a man on our roster who can play shortstop.”
Now they do, and Sheets may keep his spot right on through the pennant race and - if the Mariners get there - the postseason.
“What do we do if Alex turns an ankle?” Piniella said. “With Andy, we’ve got someone who can play shortstop and second base and even a little third.”
Sheets’ arrival came at the expense of outfielder Raul Ibanez, who played Saturday and picked up his first major league hit - an RBI triple - before being sent back to the Rainiers.
Sheets was pencilled into the lineup at second base Saturday night, but that game was rained out. It’ll be made up today as part of a doubleheader, and Sheets figures to play somewhere in at least one of the games against Chicago.
Reliever Mike Timlin bought rookie Ken Cloude a bottle of champagne to commemorate the kid’s first big league victory, though Saturday he admitted it was partly to ease his own guilt. “I had a hand in helping him lose his first one,” Timlin said. “This was the least I could do.” … Who runs the White Sox? In April, Albert Belle demanded a room be built off the Chicago clubhouse where he could do interviews - and he still hasn’t set foot in it. And owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who promised in May that Belle would be cooperative with the local press, now acknowledges that won’t happen. “We didn’t pay Albert to talk to the media,” Reinsdorf said. In Comiskey Park on Saturday, Belle was booed after each at-bat in which he made an out. … That crowd also booed in the first game when the White Sox issued an intentional walk to Ken Griffey Jr. - his 18th of the season.