PHOENIX – Any time Ichiro Suzuki’s name does not appear in the pregame lineup it, eyebrows raise, particularly in the Japanese media contingent.
Despite his desire to play every day, Ichiro does get a handful of days off each season. He received his second this season Monday.
“Just giving him the day off,” manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s a good time to do it with a left-hander (Arizona’s Wade Miley) throwing against us and the first day of a road trip.”
Wedge said his veteran right fielder, 38, would be back in the lineup today.
“I think it does help him to have a day off every now and then,” Wedge said.
The last time Ichiro sat out was May 30 when the Mariners won at Texas, 21-8.
Wedge didn’t dismiss the idea of Ichiro possibly getting more days off, particularly if this seems to refresh him physically and mentally.
While Ichior is in vastly better shape than most anyone his age, Wedge said more time off might be necessary.
“It might be this year,” he said. “This is the second day (off) we’ve given him. It’s a long season. If we feel like he can benefit from it, then it makes sense to do that.”
Ichiro is having a mediocre season. He is hitting .255 (71-for-278) with a .282 on-base percentage.
As for those hitting struggles, Wedge said Ichiro’s approach and unique swing make it difficult for the coaching staff to know what is causing his problems.
“When you get to the point where he is in his career, he knows his game more than anybody,” Wedge said.
Ichiro started the season as the No. 3 hitter and had minimal success. A few weeks ago, Wedge returned him to the leadoff spot which he’s occupied for most of 12 seasons with Seattle.
Since being moved back to the leadoff spot 15 games ago, he is hitting .206 (14-for-68) with a .206 OBP — meaning he hasn’t drawn a walk in that time.
While fans may be debating whether it’s time to drop him in the batting order, Wedge said he isn’t going to give up on Ichiro in the leadoff spot just yet.
“We gave him a couple months in the three hole, and we’ll give him a period of time (at leadoff) and hopefully he can get something going,” Wedge said. “He’s done it so much. He knows what to do there.”
Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Mike Wilson was named the Pacific Coast League player of the week for June 11-17. In six games, Wilson batted .500 (12-for-24) with two doubles, four home runs and eight RBI.
Top pitching prospect Danny Hultzen was named the Southern League’s pitcher of the week for the second consecutive week.
The talented left-hander made one last start before the Southern League All-Star break, pitching eight shutout innings, giving up just two hits while striking out eight and walking one to improve to 8-3 with a 1.19 ERA. He has not allowed a run in his past 262/3 innings.
Hultzen will start the Southern League’s All-Star game for the North Division team today at Smokies Park in Kodak, Tenn.
It seems to be a matter of days, not weeks, before Hultzen will be called up to Triple A Tacoma.
The Mariners and Diamondbacks will play again at 6:40 p.m. today. Seattle will have right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (0-1, 4.50 ERA) make his second start of the season. Arizona will go with right-hander Daniel Hudson (3-1, 5.67 ERA). Root Sports will televise the firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports @RyanDivish