Seattle Mariners

Rain delays Manny Acta’s Mariners managerial debut. And Ichiro’s first day as bench coach

Seattle Mariners third base coach Manny Acta watches against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, June 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seattle Mariners third base coach Manny Acta watches against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Monday, June 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

So much for Ichiro Suzuki’s first coaching opportunity.

And Manny Acta managing again.

The Seattle Mariners had their game against the Tigers in Detroit postponed because of rain on Friday.

They’ll make up the game as part of a doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday, with the first game scheduled for 1:10 p.m. Marco Gonzales will start the first game and Felix Hernandez the second.

It’s the second postponed game for the Mariners so far, but the first because of rain. They are playing a makeup game in Minnesota against the Twins on Monday because their scheduled game last month was postponed because of snow and freezing temperatures.

So Saturday is Ichiro’s first shot at making coaching calls.

The 44-year-old won’t be playing the rest of the 2018 season but he is in some sort of front office-type role now as a “special adviser to the chairman.” Normally he can’t sit in the dugout during games because teams are limited in how many coaches can be in the dugout.

But manager Scott Servais wasn’t with the team Friday and will miss Saturday’s games, too, to watch his daughter, Jackie, receive her master’s degree from Ole Miss School of Journalism and New Media.

Acta, the team's bench coach, will be filling in for Servais who apparently wasn’t joking when he said Thursday that Ichiro would then take Acta’s place as the team’s bench coach.

“(Ichiro's) going to be watching the game and managing on his own just like I do,” Acta told reporters Friday afternoon. “And if anything pops up or any idea I’ll ask him and go from there …

“And probably at the end of the day I’ll go with my idea,” Acta laughed.

It’s clear Ichiro is still very much a part of the team. He raced onto the field after James Paxton completed his no-hitter on Tuesday, dressed in his full game gear, to celebrate with the rest of the players.

Ichiro said last week – after his first game removed from the Mariners’ active roster – that he warms up as if he were actually playing in the game. He even takes batting practice. But during the game he has sat in one of the video rooms watching the Mariners on TV, while continuing his work in the batting cages.

“The funny thing is I probably worked out more than I did (when I was on the team),” Ichiro said through interpreter Allen Turner last week. “I got a lot more work in. So I can say I probably won’t be 240 pounds when spring training rolls around.”

Ichiro is hoping to be playing with the Mariners again in 2019 when they open the season in Tokyo, Japan, with a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics.

Acta was asked if he’d consider getting tossed from a game before Servais returns so that Ichiro could take over as manager.

“That’s not my strength,” Acta laughed.

Acta is much more in line to spend more of his career coaching.

He has managed both the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals before joining Servais’ staff as bench coach. And he said he would like to return to a managing role at some point.

Acta interviewed for the New York Mets job this offseason that Mickey Callaway got.

“I’m in no type of rush,” Acta said. “I don’t have any type of agenda, but that is my goal and that’s what I’d like to do.”

But why would a team take a flyer on Acta now?

He said he’s learned much under Servais, who embraces as much sabermetrics, extreme defensive shifts and new ways as any manager in the game. Acta spent three seasons with the Nationals beginning in 2007 before taking over the Indians in 2010 for three more seasons. His coaching record is 372-518 (.418).

“I think somebody will take a chance,” Acta said. "I’ve been in rebuilding jobs and my fear is the industry that put me in rebuilding jobs will judge me on wins and losses, when those are part of the game.”

He said some of his teachers were Frank Robinson and Willie Randolph.

“They were old-school guys and the game has changed so much,” Acta said. “Whenever I go back, I’ll do so many things different than I did in the past because that’s what I saw and what I learned from Frank and Willie. And the way Scotty handles guys on an everyday basis and the way the game has changed – it forces you to change.”

But maybe the biggest question about Servais' absence is who takes over the Swelmet duties if Acta is manager. Acta frequently posts to his Twitter the winner of the Mariners’ Swelmet – which goes to the team’s player of the game after wins.

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On tap

The Mariners will makeup Friday’s rain-postponed game with a double header against the Tigers starting at 1:10 p.m. Saturday in Detroit. The Mariners will start Gonzales (3-2, 5.19 ERA) against Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd (1-3, 3.00) in the first game, with Hernandez (4-3, 5.28 ERA) against Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer (1-2, 3.51 ERA) in Game 2.

Both games will televise on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677

@TJCotterill

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