Finally, on Sunday, he rested.
Seattle Mariners center fielder Abraham Almonte had gone 23 games, 98 at-bats and numerous outfield adventures without a break. He sat down and took a breath Sunday.
April has been a struggle for the young leadoff hitter. He’s hitting just .204 and striking out with high frequency. Almonte’s 36 strikeouts were tied for the major league lead entering Sunday. (Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte started the day with 36, too.)
“Not good,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said of Almonte’s first month. “But he’s in a boat with a lot of other guys. Because he’s in the leadoff spot, everybody wants to make a big deal about Almonte. We’ve got a lot of guys not hitting.
“We’ve got guys that should be hitting, and have had time in the big leagues, not hitting. So I don’t want to put everything on this guy’s shoulders and say our offensive woes are because of Almonte. That’s just not the case.”
Almonte, 24, hit .264 in September after he was called up for his major league debut. He picked up a hit in five of his first six games this season, but has plummeted since. The most troubling aspect for the speedy Almonte is his inability to put the ball in play.
Like McClendon, Almonte expects he will snap out of his funk.
“What I feel right now, it’s one of those tough times I have to fight through in the season,” Almonte said. “If I stay patient, I think I can do a good approach. I’ve been doing that before.”
Also, as McClendon alluded to, Almonte is not the only one struggling. Brad Miller — who like Almonte was called up last season then put at the top of the lineup this season — had the day off, too. He’s hitting .174 and has 26 strikeouts. He has walked just twice.
“If we’re going to analyze this and speak truthful about it, then let’s analyze it and speak truthful about it,” McClendon said. “We’ve got a lot of guys not doing the job.
“The fact is, we are what we are, and we have what we have. We have to make them better. We can talk about all the stats, we could put spin on stats, all of it’s (manure). It’s all about winning the game. If you win the game, everything’s fine.”
Almonte was acquired from the New York Yankees in a trade for reliever Shawn Kelley. Almonte hopes to get it going against the team he originally signed with when the Mariners head to New York to start a three-game series in the Bronx on Tuesday.
“Maybe three hits?” Almonte said with a smile.
RAMIREZ HAS BUMPY MINOR LEAGUE OUTING
Erasmo Ramirez was hit hard in his Sunday outing for the High-A High Desert Mavericks. Ramirez threw six innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits. He struck out seven and gave up two home runs.
Ramirez was sent to High Desert to keep him on his regular rest. Brandon Maurer started in his place for the Mariners.
The next stop for Ramirez is up in the air. Hisashi Iwakuma came out of Sunday’s rehabilitation start with the Tacoma Rainiers feeling good, which makes him a logical choice to start Friday at Houston.
Taijuan Walker (shoulder), still on the 15-day disabled list, is expected to play catch from 60 feet Monday, then again Tuesday if all goes well.
Walker was shut down after having tightness in his right shoulder April 16.
Justin Smoak extended his hitting streak to five games Sunday. He’s hitting .294 during that stretch. … Robinson Cano pushed his hitting streak to seven games. He’s hitting .423 during that span and is .301 on the season, the only Mariners regular above the .300 mark. … Corey Hart has reached base in 11 consecutive games. … Seattle won a home series against the Texas Rangers for the first time since Sept. 21-23, 2012. … After getting outscored 16-0 in the eighth inning through the first 21 games, Seattle has outscored opponents 7-1 in the eighth during the past three games.
The Mariners are off Monday before beginning a three-team, 10-day trip against the Yankees on Tuesday. Seattle’s Chris Young (0-0, 3.50 ERA) will face CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78) at 4:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.
Seattle will play three games in the Bronx, three games in Houston, then three games in Oakland before returning home.
todd.dybas@ thenewstribune.com; @Todd_Dybas