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August 10, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Ichiro back in at designated hitter as Mariners attempt to avoid sweep

We’ll see Casper Wells in right field tonight as Ichiro gets another start as the designated hitter. Anyone who saw Ichiro go after that Yorvit Torrealba double to the right-center gap last night probably won’t mind seeing his legs get another rest.
Trayvon Robinson is back in left field with Franklin Gutierrez in center. Gutierrez is starting to come on a bit at the plate. It’s certainly taken a while.
So, is this a possible outfield of the future for the Mariners? Only time and owner Hiroshi Yamauchi will tell.

Let’s be honest, this lineup probably doesn’t give the team its best shot at winning. Ichiro is going for his 11th consecutive 200-hit season and probably won’t get it even if he does play every single day from here on out.
You’d like to see somebody capable of extra-base hits in at DH, but truthfully, with the team out of the race, I have no problem with letting Ichiro keep playing and shoot for his milestone.
He earned the right over the past decade to be given a bonus shot. It’s not the same as doing it when there’s something real at stake, like a playoff berth.
This isn’t the same as handing Ken Griffey Jr. the starting DH role out of deference in 2010 after a .214 season at the plate in 2009. That conversation is going to be coming up regarding Ichiro real soon but it’s not the same as letting him pile up stats in a season already done.
The development of Wells as a right fielder or major leaguer isn’t going to hinge on the few games a week Ichiro takes up in that spot in August and September. The whole “August and September development” thing tends to be vastly overrated by people. Wells and his future in the big leagues will depend more on what he does this coming winter, next spring and next year when the games count for something again.
Right now, any game where the team keeps sending Jeff Gray out to protect leads and tie scores in the eighth and ninth isn’t one where the primary concern is coming out on top. It’s all about getting an introductory look (not a definitive look, there’s a difference) at guys in certain situations, like, in Gray’s case, giving him a chance in multiple innings of a tight game rather than calling on Brandon League for a four-out save. It’s about resting other guys and, for some, yes — padding stats.
And if Ichiro can collect another 200 hits and give us something to keep track of these final seven meaningless weeks, more power to him. Let’s not completely forget everything he’s done in the past, despite how sub-par he’s been this season.
Lineup at Texas Rangers (8/10/11)
Mariners (49-66)
51 Ichiro Suzuki (L) DH
2 Jack Wilson SS
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
20 Mike Carp (L) 1B
30 Miguel Olivo C
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
33 Casper Wells RF
1 Luis Rodriguez (S) 3B
12 Trayvon Robinson (S) LF
38 Jason Vargas LHP
Rangers (66-51)
5 Ian Kinsler 2B
1 Elvis Andrus SS
32 Josh Hamilton (L) CF
10 Michael Young 3B
17 Nelson Cruz RF
25 Mike Napoli DH
8 Yorvit Torrealba C
18 Mitch Moreland 1B
7 David Murphy (L) LF
45 Derek Holland LHP



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