Mariners let catcher lead off for first time in 34 years

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Catcher John Jaso is hitting leadoff for the Mariners against the Tigers and Drew Smyly on Wednesday. It’s the first time since 1978 that a Mariners backstop has found himself atop the order.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out that Bob Stinson was the only previous catcher to lead off for the Mariners, doing so twice in 1978.

Jaso has a fair amount of experience leading off, having hit there in 51 games with the Rays. He batted .262/.360/.393 with 33 runs scored in 191 at-bats, which is really pretty good.

However, the odd thing is that the Mariners have him leading off against a lefty tonight. Jaso, a left-handed hitter, has rarely started versus southpaws in his career. He has a .183/.320/.268 line in 82 lifetime at-bats against left-handers.

Of course, the alternative option is probably Chone Figgins, so what’s the harm?

Josh Donaldson is still seeking a long-term deal with the Blue Jays

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If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.

“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.

Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.