Return won’t come out of left field
Mike Carp has been working on a swing that’s been hiding much of the season, resting a right shoulder strain that’s twice landed him on the disabled list.
Now, close to heading to Tacoma to begin a minor-league rehab assignment, there’s been one more change – you won’t be seeing Carp in left field for the Rainiers or the Seattle Mariners for the rest of the season.
“We tried him in left field, it didn’t work and it affected his swing,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “When we send him out to play, it will be at first base and designated hitter.”
Since going on the disabled list for the second time June 13, Carp has not thrown a ball, and won’t until he joins Tacoma, possibly as soon as this weekend.
“We’re going to take him with us to Oakland, and send him out (to Tacoma) at the All-Star break or maybe a day or two sooner,” Wedge said.
Carp, 26, has appeared in 32 games this season, batting .157 with four home runs and 12 RBI. Working the past 10 days, Carp said, he’s found the swing he had last year.
“Nothing hurts when I swing, and my timing is coming back,” Carp said. “All season, I’ve felt like I’m just missing pitches. I’m feeling a lot more confidence now.
“The goal is to come back and have a great second half.”
Catcher Mike Zunino was introduced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon and, 21/2 hours later, took his first round of batting practice as a professional player.
The No. 3 overall pick in June had a wooden bat and Safeco Field to contend with, and appeared nervous in his first few rounds.
“You could see the more he swung the more comfortable he got,” Wedge said. “And the more comfortable he got, the better he looked.”
In a group with Jesus Montero and Brendan Ryan, Zunino, 21, seemed to find his timing against bullpen coach Jason Phillips – and Ryan was delighted with the results.
“Oh, man, look at that!” he yelled as Zunino, a right-handed batter, hit three consecutive pitches either off the second faade in left field or well into the second deck.
“That was a lot of fun,” Zunino said.
“We’ll be seeing him again,” Ryan said.
With the All-Star break coming and a day off Thursday, the Mariners won’t need another start from Hisashi Iwakuma, who will return to the bullpen and be available for the three-game series in Oakland. After the break, the team hopes Erasmo Ramirez (strained elbow) can return to the rotation. ... The Mariners’ bullpen set the franchise record for the lowest earned-run average in a month by forging a 1.88 ERA in June. ... Ichiro Suzuki, Munenori Kawasaki and Iwakuma became the first three Japanese players in major league history Monday to start for the same team in a big-league game.
Seattle plays host to Baltimore in a 1:10 p.m. game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Baltimore’s Chris Tillman (season debut) vs. Hector Noesi (2-10, 6.59 ERA).