Mariners Insider Blog

Wedge on new pitcher and old leadoff hitter

Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge was asked about two players today - rookie reliever Stephen Pryor and veteran Ichiro Suzuki - and discussed both in news of the day.

“I’d forgotten how damned big he was – he filled my doorway,” Wedge said of Pryor.

Pryor, 23, fills most everything around him at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds.

 “I watched him throw a few times in spring training, and he’s got a power arm,” Wedge said. “We’ll try to get his first appearance out of the way and go from there.”

Though he started the season in Class AA, Pryor said his goal went well beyond getting to Class AAA Tacoma.

“I wanted to get to the big leagues this year,” Pryor said. “I didn’t think it would be this soon, but I thought I could get here this season. I just kept pounding the strike zone, forcing contact.”

In a combined 28 innings between Jackson and Tacoma this season, Pryor held opposing hitters to a .121 average, saved nine games and struck out 39 batters.

“His fastball in Tacoma averaged 95 mph and occasionally hit 100 mph, though you have to see one of those to believe it,” pitching coach Carl Willis said. “Pryor has a fastball, a slider that’s getting better and a changeup he’s working on."

As for Ichiro's move, from batting third to leading off for the first time in 2012, Wedge said the move was made to help Ichiro - in hopes that it would help the team.

"We're a couple of months in, and batting first is where he has the most experience, where he's the most relaxed," Wedge said. "I told him we were doing this before the game Wednesday. If he can get going, it will help the team."

Ichiro is batting .271 with a .305 on-base percentage - Dustin Ackley, who will now bat second, had a .320 OBP.

Wedge said there shouldn't be an adjustment for Ichiro.

"I don't think he made any drastic changes in his approach batting third," Wedge said. "We'll see how this works."