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July 8, 2009 at 12:18 PM

Ichiro DH-ing and a few other pre-game notes

About 90 minutes to first pitch and Bob Condotta filling in for Geoff Baker today.
Most interesting aspect of the lineup today may be that Ichiro is serving as the designated hitter for the first time this year — he’s played in right for the other 75 games he has started this season.. Manager Don Wakamatsu said he simply wanted to give Ichiro “a little bit of a break” noting that he hasn’t had many this year and saying it has to be remembered that he missed the first eight games of the season for what was officially termed as “severe fatigue” after battling a bleeding ulcer.
That might make you think Ken Griffey Jr., would be in the field today.But Wakamatsu said Griffey has been battling some minor knee pain of late, so the outfield today instead has Wladimir Balentien in left, Franklin Gutierrez in center and Ryan Langerhans in right for the first time — his previous six games as a Mariner have come in left. Wakamatsu said Griffey is available to pinch-hit today.
Wakamatsu also talked more about the plan for Yuniesky Betancourt, continuing his return from a strained left hamstring. The plan is for him to play five innings at second base tonight in Tacoma and then seven innings of shortstop on Thursday and then “assess his progress.” If Betancourt shows he can play second, that would allow the M’s to use Jose Lopez at third as they attempt to fill-in for the injured Adrian Beltre.
“That just gives us some options,” Wakamatsu said.
Also, Ryan Rowland-Smith allowed just two runs in 7-and-one-third at Tacoma last night and Wakamatsu said “that’s a good sign he’s headed in the right direction” though it’s still uncertain when he may return.
As for the rotation after the break, Wakamatsu said Felix Hernandez will start the second game in Cleveland on Friday night with Brandon Morrow likely going on Thursday and Jarrod Washburn on Saturday. Washburn’s regular turn would come Thursday, but Wakamatsu said the break allows a good chance to give him a couple extra days of rest.
Also, the manager said Mike Sweeney had X-rays on his aching back Tuesday, though still without any results. He said the hope is that it’s found to just be some muscle tigihtness or something and nothing serious. Depending on what the X-rays show, he may need an MRI.
Here are the lineups:
Mariners
Ichiro DH
Woodward 3B
Branyan 1B
Lopez 2B
Gutierrez CF
Langerhans RF
Jojhima C
Balentien LF
Cedeno SS
Orioles
Adam Jones CF
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 2B
Aubrey Huff 1B
Nolann Reimold LF
Luke Scott DH
Melvin Mora 3B
Gregg Zaun C
Robert Andino SS

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