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The riddle of Jeff Mathis, solved

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Why does the team continue to start Mathis? One of his pitchers may be providing the answer: Seattle starter Jason Vargas escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by striking out Jeff Mathis. It was up to Mathis again to break the scoreless tie with two outs and runners at second and third in the sixth, but he fanned again. Mathis was 0-for-3, dropping his average to .181 and his average with runners in scoring position to .173. "Obviously, he's not swinging the bat real well right now, but from a team standpoint, his catching overshadows what he does at the plate. It always does," Weaver said. "He's nails back there. The fans don't see it that way, but he's too good to keep him out of the lineup. And he's too strong to let what he's not doing at the plate affect him." It doesn't matter what anyone thinks but the manager and the pitchers, and if Weaver's comments are shared by others on the staff, then it would seem they feel more comfortable with Mathis behind the plate than Conger or Wilson. When you want to impress your ace, make sure you have his favorite receiver on the roster.

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