HOUSTON — With under two weeks to go until the trade deadline, hot-hitting Raul Ibanez is bound to be prominent on the rumor mill. In fact, his name is already being mentioned as a possible candidate to be dealt, based on his torrid first half (24 homers) and the fact the Mariners began play after the All-Star break nine games under .500.
But Ibanez said Friday he doesn’t want to go anywhere — even if it’s a route for a possible return trip to the playoffs.
“I would say it’s July and why can’t we do that here? That would be my response. Why can’t we do that here?” he said. “Yeah, I want to play in the playoffs — right here. I think we’ve been playing good baseball the last couple of weeks, and I’d like to see that continue.”
Still, the Mariners have dug themselves a steep hole. Even after sweeping the Angels heading into the All-Star break, they began the second half 13 games out of first place in the AL West. They were 11 games out in the wild card with seven teams to pass to get one of the two wild-card berths.
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Ibanez has been in the playoffs five times — with the M’s in 2000, with the Phillies in 2009-11 and with the Yankees last year. He said he has not talked to Seattle GM Jack Zduriencek about his trade status.
“I have not,” he said, adding: “I like being here, I like being a part of this team and I’d like to win here.”
• Mariners manager Eric Wedge arrived back clean-shaven for the second half, and said he wants his team to pick up where they left off before the break: “Just to keep going. I like the feel and energy of the ballclub, both young and old.”
• Wedge confirmed
Erasmo Ramirez will come back up to start Tuesday against the Indians.
• Wedge said
Michael Morse (quad) and Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring) are both improving. Gutierrez and Stephen Pryor are already with Tacoma on rehab assignments, and Wedge said they’re hoping to have Morse join them next week. Endy Chavez (groin) is “good to go,’’ Wedge said.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @StoneLarry