Leadoff debate continues
ARLINGTON, Tex. – The Chone Figgins Batting Leadoff experiment lasted 24 games, and manager Eric Wedge was asked a familiar question Tuesday – how long will Ichiro remain the Seattle Mariners’ No. 3 hitter?
“Obviously it’s something you have to consider. But you’ve got to have a solution to it, too,” Wedge said.
“I’m always considering almost everything. I weigh everything out. I look at our options, the timing, I try to stay consistent with my thought process on all our guys. But the fact of the matter is you have to open yourself up to what you feel ultimately is best for the ballclub and best for the player.”
In other words, Wedge didn’t say he would move Ichiro, who has batted third in every game this season.
With Figgins out of the lineup, Dustin Ackley led off Tuesday.
A year ago, Ichiro batted a career-low .272 and now, in the final year of his contract, has hit .271 in a team-high 207 at-bats. He has one home run and 16 RBI, tied for fourth on the club.
“And also, you have to take into consideration who is going to be your three-hole hitter, who is going to hit fourth. All that enters into it,” Wedge said.
Ichiro is not a classic No. 3 hitter, but at .271 his batting average is the highest on the team.
With runners in scoring position, however, Ichiro is batting .157.
GUTIERREZ SET TO DH
Franklin Gutierrez has rejoined the Mariners extended spring camp in Peoria, Ariz., where he was scheduled to play an intrasquad game as designated hitter Tuesday.
“He’s going to DH five innings (Tuesday), play the field five innings (today) and then probably need a day or two off to re-evaluate,” Wedge said. “If we can get him out of Arizona by next week, it’s a 20-game rehab assignment.
“We should get him back before the All-Star break.”
The All-Star break begins July 9. Center fielder Gutierrez hasn’t played a full game yet this season at any level. He’s rehabbing a heel injury.
Veteran Kevin Millwood has allowed one run in his past 22 innings, and was asked if he’d like to face a team – like the Mariners – filled with young hitters.
“No, I wouldn’t,” Millwood said. “A veteran lineup comes into a game with a plan, and if you can figure out what it is, you can try to disrupt it.
“Young hitters don’t have a plan. They see the ball and try to hit it. Give me the veteran hitters, any day.”
Going into the game Tuesday, Mariners left-handed relievers were dominating left-handed hitters. Against Charlie Furbush, lefties are batting .138. Against rookie Lucas Luetge, .087. … Over his past 16 games, Justin Smoak is batting .297 with four home runs and 11 RBI, raising his season average by 45 points.
Seattle plays in Texas, a 5:05 p.m. (PDT) game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Seattle’s Blake Beavan (2-4, 4.38 ERA) vs. Derek Holland (4-3, 4.05).