OAKLAND, Calif. — Kyle Seager insists there is a certain art to those takeout slides he keeps making at second base to break up double plays.
His latest came Friday night to extend the eighth inning and allow Raul Ibanez to deliver a run-scoring single that proved the difference in the game. Seager slid hard into second base on a grounder, preventing shortstop Jed Lowrie from turning a double play on slow-moving Michael Morse.
“You’re never trying to blatantly hurt somebody,’’ said Seager, who has made such takeouts a routine part of his game. “The whole point is to go in there hard, in moments where you’re actually close enough to make a difference. If it’s a sharp ground ball right at the infielder, then obviously you’re better off just getting down because the ball (on the throw) is going to be coming right at you anyway.’’
On the play Friday, Seager got a good jump toward second after anticipating Morse would hit the ball on the ground based on the low location of the pitch he swung at.
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“Then, when I saw it was a chopper, I knew it was going to take time to get the ball to second base,’’ Seager said. “So, I knew I was going to get there around the same time as the ball. That’s when you go in hard.’’
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Saturday that first baseman Justin Smoak might rejoin the team on the latter part of this road trip in Anaheim. Wedge said he first wants to be as certain as possible that Smoak is completely over the oblique strain that sidelined him in late May.
Wedge also wants to give Dustin Ackley more time to acclimate to the outfield before he’s promoted back to the big leagues. The Mariners are hoping the pending return of Franklin Gutierrez off the DL in another week or two, plus the addition of Ackley, can help them rest veterans Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay.
• The Mariners might also choose to option Michael Saunders to AAA once they have another center fielder in the fold. Saunders had a late single Saturday and a hit in Friday’s game, but his batting average has still been in a steady, sub-.200 decline for six weeks.
• Nick Franklin lined a fifth-inning double on Saturday to give him 18 hits in his first 18 games as a big leaguer. That’s the fastest Mariners rookie to reach 18 hits since Kenji Johjima did it in 17 games in 2006.
• The home run by Mike Zunino on Friday in his second game in the majors made him the 10th player in Mariners history to go deep in his first or second big league contest. Trayvon Robinson was the most recent, hitting a homer in his second career game on Aug. 6, 2011.