Wedge said Ichiro will be back in the leadoff spot on Tuesday, but wouldn't say how much longer he's prepared to go with that arrangement.
PHOENIX — Ichiro got his second sit-down in just under three weeks Monday, his future as an everyday leadoff hitter still up in the air.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge made the decision to sit Ichiro for the series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks, inserting Michael Saunders at leadoff and putting Casper Wells in right field. Wedge said Ichiro will be back in the leadoff spot Tuesday, but wouldn’t say how much longer he’s prepared to go with that arrangement.
Ichiro has just a .282 on-base percentage for the year and a .206 OBP since being put in the leadoff spot June 1. His OBP in the leadoff spot is the same as his batting average, since he has yet to draw a walk from the No. 1 position in the order.
“We’re trying to … give him a period of time here to have success and to get it back going again,” Wedge said. “That’s where he’s most comfortable. That’s where he likes being, so we’re just trying to give him a period of time here where, hopefully, he can find it and take off from there.
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“We gave him a couple of months in the three-hole. We felt like we needed him to make the move there. Now, we’re going to give him a period of time here in the one-hole and, hopefully, he can get himself going.”
Wedge wouldn’t say how much longer that period will stretch if Ichiro doesn’t start getting on base more.
“We’ll play it by ear,” he said.
Hot bat gets Montero
more playing time
Jesus Montero got the nod to start Monday’s game at catcher, more a tribute to his hot bat than anything else.
With a left-handed pitcher facing them, the Mariners would normally have started Miguel Olivo behind the plate and used Montero as a designated hitter. But since they are playing under National League rules without a DH this series, Montero’s bat is the one the team wanted in there.
Montero is hitting .306 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .824 his past 25 games. He also had five hits over the weekend in three games against the San Francisco Giants, lifting his OBP to a season-high .308.
• Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, handling the closer role on a temporary basis, entered Monday having not allowed a run his last nine outings. The stretch covers 11-2/3 innings in which Wilhelmsen has limited opponents to a .108 batting average. In his ninth-inning outings this season, Wilhelmsen has held opponents to a .111 average.
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com. On Twitter @gbakermariners.