HOUSTON — Like most players over the All-Star break, Raul Ibañez continued to work out during his time off, even taking some batting practice.
Wait, no player does that.
Well, no normal players.
For the maniacally prepared Ibañez, there was no other option but to keep working out.
“When you get to 40 (years old), you have to work out,” the 41-year-old said. “I always joke with these guys and say, ‘Inactivity is the enemy of middle-aged players.’
“I worked out a couple times, swam some, worked out some, took some swings off the tee a little. It wasn’t like every day, I just worked out Sunday after the game and Tuesday again and swam on Monday and played with the kids in the pool. Just stayed active.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge wasn’t surprised.
“I saw him Sunday before the break,” Wedge said. “He was in the weight room, working out by himself before I even left the building. I think it’s safe to say he has a pretty good program going.”
Indeed, before the break, Ibañez hit 24 homers and drove in 56 runs in 73 games.
One thing that Ibañez didn’t do during his time off was think about his future as pertaining to the trade deadline.
“It’s something I can’t control anyway,” Ibañez said. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know if you focus on what you can’t control, then what you can control kind of takes a back seat. I only focus on what I can control, and that’s my attitude and my preparation and my approach to the game and how I can help my team win.”
Ibañez said he has not talked to general manager Jack Zduriencik about what would happen if a team did ask about him.
So does Ibañez want to be traded to a team that’s likely to be in the postseason? He has participated in the postseason five times — once with the Mariners (2000), three times with the Phillies and last year with the Yankees — and those chances don’t come around often.
“I would say it’s July, and why can’t we do that here?” he said. “That would be my response. … Yeah, I want to play in the playoffs right here. I think we’ve been playing good baseball the last couple of weeks, and I’d like to see that continue.”
ACKLEY TACKLES TAL’S HILL
Before Friday’s game, Dustin Ackley had yet to run up Tal’s Hill — the slope in center field of Minute Maid Park — and was hoping he wouldn’t have to.
The embankment, which is named after former team president Tal Smith, is 90 feet wide and leads up to the outfield wall 436 feet from home plate.
The hill can be an adventure for outfielders who are unaccustomed to running up an incline while chasing a fly ball. It could be a little more difficult for Ackley, a former second baseman who still is learning to play outfield at the major league level.
“To be honest, I imagine not many balls are hit that far out there, so I probably won’t have to worry about it too much,” he said before the game. “But I will go out there for a little bit, check it out and see how it feels, see if it feels weird or if there are any holes. ”
The old axiom in baseball for inexperienced players is “the baseball finds you.”
But Ackley wasn’t sure it would find him on the hill.
“It will find you if you haven’t been out there,” he said. “If somebody hits a ball out there, I’m sure it’s going to be a double or triple. I’m not going to be playing 400 feet back there. So if they hit it that far, they deserve a double or triple.”
Michael Morse is still in Seattle rehabilitating his strained quadriceps. Wedge expects him to be sent to the minor leagues on a rehab assignment next week.
Reliever Stephen Pryor and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez are in the midst of their rehab assignments. They are with the Tacoma Rainiers in Fresno, Calif.
Pryor has not pitched for the Mariners since suffering a torn a muscle in his back April 14.
“Well, it’s going to take him some time,” Wedge said. “I won’t say (he completely had to retsart his throwing program), but pretty much. A lot of that he’s been doing with the simulated games and bullpens.”