Erasmo Ramirez’s spot in the starting rotation might not be his for much longer.
When asked if he was considering making a change with Ramirez, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon paused and said, “Yeah, I would say that’s a fair assessment. I’m not sure what we’re going to do as of right now.”
McClendon said a lot of the decision has to do with the health of Hisashi Iwakuma, who is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday for Class AAA Tacoma. Iwakuma hasn’t pitched this season because of a finger injury, but he’s penciled in as the Mariners’ No. 2 starter when he returns.
Ramirez is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts, and he has drawn criticism from McClendon for his control issues. Ramirez is a pitcher who relies on control, but that’s been a weakness.
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He gave up three runs in six innings and had eight strikeouts Tuesday — a quality start by the official measure — but McClendon didn’t sound too pleased with Ramirez after the game.
• Left fielder Dustin Ackley returned to the eighth spot in the order and McClendon said that will be where Ackley hits for a while. Ackley batted second the previous two games and struck out six times. “I was just trying to get a spark,” McClendon said. “It didn’t work. I was wrong with that. But I tried. I like him in the eighth spot, and it was probably my mistake. I should have left him in the eighth spot because he’s done very well down there. I’m going to do it my way. He’s going back to the eighth spot.”
Ackley is hitting .300 in 11 games as the eight hitter this season. He’s hitting .161 everywhere else in the order.
• Center fielder Abraham Almonte misplayed a ball at the warning track, allowing a double, and he also struck out two more times. Almonte entered the day leading the American League in strikeouts, and he’s also had his fair share of fielding and baserunning blunders. His average is down to .213 in the leadoff spot.
Almonte’s misplay came in the seventh inning. Houston’s Jonathan Villar hit a towering fly ball and Almonte raced over to get in position. But he made an awkward attempt to catch the ball as he got close to the wall, and the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double.
“I am concerned,” McClendon said. “He’s got to catch the ball, and he knows that. But, look, I said this when this guy first came: He’s going to make some mistakes, and he’s going to leave us all scratching our head from time to time. But I think in the end this young man is going to be OK.
“He’s going to have some growing pains. That’s just the way it is. And when he has those pains, just blame it on me because I’m the one who said he should be here.”
• Injured starting pitchers Taijuan Walker (shoulder) and James Paxton (strained lat) have been cleared to start playing catch as early as Friday, McClendon said.
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