SEATTLE -- Players are still adjusting to Major League Baseball's new transfer rule that mandates a fielder keep control of the baseball when he brings it from his glove to his throwing hand. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said before Sunday's game that he was adjusting, acknowledging that he was confused at times, too.
"I think the players are struggling with it a little bit more than the managers," McClendon said. "What we try to tell our players is to watch the umpires. If he makes the call, act accordingly."
On two separate fly balls in Saturday night's loss, Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley secured the baseball in his mitt but subsequently failed to make a smooth transfer to his throwing hand. Each time the ball fell to the ground, and the batter was ruled safe. In an odd play in the sixth inning, A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes lined it to Ackley. The left fielder appeared at first to make the catch but dropped it on the transfer.
Not understanding that the ball was still live, Cespedes peeled off and ran back to the dugout before touching first base -- all while his teammates frantically waved at him to keep running.
Ackley had time to gather the ball and hit shortstop Brad Miller with a relay throw, and Miller threw to Smoak at first base to complete the otherwise typical 7-6-3 putout.
"I think you gotta think about it a little bit," Ackley said when asked Saturday about how he was adjusting to the new rule. "I think you gotta focus on the exchange. I don't want to overthink anything but just go out there and -- especially situations where there's nobody on base -- make sure that you catch it and make the exchange."
Mariners to don No. 42 in honor of Robinson
SEATTLE -- Major League Baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Tuesday by having every player, manager and member of on-field personnel wear No. 42 jerseys.
It's the sixth consecutive year MLB has used the tradition to honor Robinson, who broke the color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first African-American baseball player to appear in an MLB game.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he recently had the chance to read Robinson's autobiography and watch the movie "42." He plans to proudly to honor the Hall of Famer who hit .311 over 10 MLB seasons.
"Obviously, Jackie is the reason I'm sitting here," McClendon said. "A lot of other folks are in the position that they're sitting in [because of him]. I'll wear it with pride. I think it's very significant. I think probably lost in all this is the struggles that he really went through.
"I thought what was really important was that he was tough enough to not fight back, and that really meant a lot."
McClendon says Smoak's fielding overlooked
SEATTLE -- Before the Mariners faced the Athletics on Sunday in the finale of the teams' three-game series, Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon suggested that it was only a matter of time before first baseman Justin Smoak would be recognized for his defense.
"I think he's a Gold Glove type of first baseman," McClendon said. "I think the reason he has probably not won a Gold Glove to this point is his offensive numbers have not been there. I've always said that Gold Gloves are more an offensive award than a defensive award. If you look at first basemen in the league, I think he's as good as any of them."
Seattle lost, 3-1, to Oakland on Saturday night, though the final outcome could have been more lopsided if it weren't for Smoak's play around the bag. With perfect footwork, he started a double play to get starter Erasmo Ramirez out of the fifth inning. With two outs and the Mariners trailing by 3-1 in the third, he dived to his right to stop a sharply hit Alberto Callaspo ground ball. The unassisted putout helped Ramirez avoid more damage as it stranded runners on first and third.
"For me, it's routine with him," McClendon said. "I probably take it for granted because he's so good around the bag. He's definitely a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman. Once he gets those offensive numbers up, he'll be recognized."
• Despite missing three starters who were expected to begin the year in the rotation, Seattle entered Sunday ranked third in the American League with a 2.77 ERA and has the lowest opponent's batting average in the Major Leagues at .191 (62-for-325). The bullpen, a major strength for the club, led the AL with a 1.99 ERA.
• Rehabbing right-hander Taijuan Walker, rated the top prospect in the organization by MLB.com, will make another rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Tacoma as he continues to recover from the shoulder inflammation that sidelined him for all of Spring Training.
Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.