Ichiro may be locked in the biggest struggle of his career, but he will continue to lead off and play every day, manager Eric Wedge said...
CLEVELAND — Ichiro may be locked in the biggest struggle of his career, but he will continue to lead off and play every day, manager Eric Wedge said Monday in Cleveland.
“I know it’s been a fight for him, but he’s tried to handle it as best he can,” Wedge said. “We’re going to continue to give him opportunities at the top of the lineup as we play this out.”
Earlier, when talking about giving Kyle Seager the night off, Wedge had talked about “the balancing act of getting everyone in there.” Part of the manager’s balancing act is finding playing time for his young outfielders, a challenge that will get harder when Justin Smoak comes off the disabled list. But Wedge said sitting Ichiro to facilitate that is not a temptation.
“No, we’re going to run Ichiro through. As long as he’s physically able, I think he’s earned that,” Wedge said. “We’ll continue to do a juggling act, and we’ll continue to give Ichi some DH days.”
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Ichiro homered in his first at-bat and went 3 for 5 Monday night, lifting his average to .269.
Vasquez to make
Wedge announced that left-hander Anthony Vasquez will come up from Class AAA Tacoma to start the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
The Mariners must clear a spot on both the 25- and 40-man rosters, moves they’ll announce between games. Wedge said the 25-man roster move will be partially determined by how he has to utilize his bullpen in the opener, in which Blake Beavan is starting.
Vasquez, 24, was 4-3 with a 3.21 earned-run average in eight starts for Tacoma after going 5-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 16 starts for Class AA Jackson. He was an 18th-round pick in 2009 out of USC.
“He’s a guy we’ve been talking about, and been watching,” Wedge said. “I’m not too familiar with him, but in talking to guys who are familiar with him, including (pitching coach) Carl Willis, he was the guy. He was the right guy to call up to make the start.”
Ryan back at shortstop
Brendan Ryan returned to shortstop for the first time since Aug. 3. He had been on the disabled list with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, and still doesn’t expect it to be 100 percent.
“It doesn’t feel like a brand-new shoulder, by any means, but the idea is, I shouldn’t be able to do any further damage,” he said. “There’s some stuff going on, but I’ve been taking my candy (medicine) every day and trying to get that inflammation down.
“This is where we’re at, and I think we’ve been smart about not pushing it too much. I think I’ll find my limits after the fact, whatever that fact may be.”
Ryan expects the biggest impact of the shoulder will come while hitting, but he’s going to have to tone down his aggressive style of play in the field.
“I don’t know if I’ll be doing any flying burrito dives in the six hole or anything like that,” he said. “It’s going to be hard. I don’t play with caution, but I’m going to have to play with a little bit of caution.”
Ryan admits his heart started to race Saturday when, in the second inning, shortstop Luis Rodriguez had to leave the game after getting hit by a pitch in his right elbow. Wedge moved Seager to shortstop and put Adam Kennedy at third.
“When that happened, it was, ‘Holy cow. Wow. Already. OK.’ So I started moving around, double-knotted my shoelaces. I was ready to potentially throw a couple of push bunts in there. They didn’t want to take any chances. I was double emergency. That was one emergency. So I was one away.”
Rodriguez is still sore, though Wedge said he’s getting better. His availability will be determined at game time.
For the record: W-L: 54-72; W PCT: .429; Streak: W1
AL West: 16-22
AL East: 16-24
AL Cent: 13-17
Extra inngs: 5-5