With the Seattle Mariners staggering toward the All-Star break – and leadoff hitter Ichiro Suzuki mired in one of the worst slumps of his career – manager Eric Wedge shook up his lineup again Saturday.
Dustin Ackley moved to the first spot, and for the first time in his career, Ichiro started a game batting second.
“We’re trying to exhaust everything before the break,” Wedge said. “We’re trying to get those two guys going; we’re trying to get everyone going. I don’t want to cruise into the break.”
Wedge, who a night early had said his players were “not paying attention or they’re dumb” for not correcting problems at the plate, was little more diplomatic.
“Everyone knows what they need to do; there are no excuses,” Wedge said. “They’ve got to do their job.
“I’ve got a vision here, and a lot of these guys are going to be along for the ride. Some of them won’t be. I’m looking for 25 guys who come to the ballpark and want to do something about it when they get their teeth kicked in.
“I’m tired of getting our teeth kicked in.”
Ichiro began the night in an 0-for-21 stretch – one off his career-worst slump (0-for-22 in 2005) – then established a new low by starting the game 0-for-2 before singling in the fifth.
“Dustin hasn’t done anything to deserve (being moved up), but I liked him up there when he was in that role earlier this season,” Wedge said. “It’s one hell of a frustrating process to sit down and put a lineup together right, now because people aren’t doing their job.”
Ichiro has now struggled in both roles he has had this season. Batting third, he batted .271 with a .305 on-base percentage but didn’t produce with men in scoring position.
Moved back to leadoff, he’s played 30 games and is batting .237.
The Mariners got to Saturday’s game with a .230 team average – the second-worst in franchise history at the break.
The worst? A .225 batting average the Mariners had at the break last season.
JUST WIN, FELIX
Felix Hernandez will start today, then fly to Kansas City, Mo., for the All-Star Game, and Wedge was asked if Felix would be on a pitch count.
“We’re going to try to win a game,” Wedge said. “That’s the priority. Hopefully Felix can help us get a win, and the All-Star Game will take care of itself.”
When Casper Wells singled in the first inning Friday, it snapped a Mariners stretch of 29 consecutive first-inning outs. How unusual is that? The streak was the longest in the majors this season. … Jesus Montero was checked Saturday and deemed not ready to play after his mild concussion Wednesday, and it’s likely he will sit out today’s game too. … Since the start of the 2010 season, reliever Brandon League has appeared in 173 games – the most in the majors over that span.
Seattle plays today at Oakland in a 1:05 p.m. game that will be broadcast on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.26 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (6-7, 4.05).email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLarue