The Seattle Mariners will play without their designated hitter again tonight, the second 'road game' at Safeco Field as they host the Florida Marlins.
That doesn't hurt Seattle as it did, for instance, in the days when the DH was Edgar Martinez, but it's still a bat short for a team that's already searching for several. Given that, manager Eric Wedge has put together a heart of the lineup few fans could have forseen in spring training.
Hitting third is Adam Kennedy, the non-roster invitee who made the team and has appeared in 60 of the first 76 games. Batting fourth is Justin Smoak, who Wedge said in April wasn't ready for the cleanup spot yet. And, hitting fifth, rookie Dustin Ackley - playing his eighth big-league game.
Those three may be as good as any hitters Wedge has at his disposal, and because of that starting pitcher Jason Vargas will almost certainly need his 'A' game against Florida.
That 'A' game this season includes his first two career complete-game shutouts and another nine-innings without allowing a run in an extra inning game in which he got no decision. If Vargas pitches four innings tonight he'll trail only Felix Hernandez for innings pitched on this staff.
It's Seattle vs. Florida, and here's the lineup:
Ichiro RFBrendan Ryan SSAdam Kennedy 3BJustin Smoak 1BDustin Ackley 2BMiguel Olivo CCarlos Peguero LFFranklin Gutierrez CFJason Vargas P