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August 22, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Wedge says Ichiro is going to keep playing every day; Vasquez to start second game Tuesday

Ichiro may be locked in the biggest struggle of his career, but he’s going to continue to lead off and play every day, manager Eric Wedge said today 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 tonight, Wedge had talked about “the balancing act of getting everyone in there.” So I asked him about sitting Ichiro to aid the balancing act of getting all his young outfielders playing time, particularly when Justin Smoak comes off the disabled list. Wedge said that’s not a temptation.
“We’re going to run Ichiro through,” he said. “As long as he’s physically able, I think he’s earned that. We’ll continue to do a juggling act, and we’ll continue to give Ichi some DH days.”

Wedge had some interesting comments about Ichiro’s struggles at the plate this year, twice mentioning that he doesn’t seem as aggressive this year as in the past.
“He hasn’t given in to anything,” he said. “He’s had his struggles this year. It’s a little difficult for me to sum it all up because I’ve never been here for a full year when he was having those types of years he had. I think in the past, some of the balls he’s hit have found holes. I think he’s probably been a little more aggressive some times in the past, which has helped him.
“I’ve said it before, but (managing against him) ,I felt like he was coming to the plate every other inning, if not every inning. He seemed to me to be a little more aggressive over there at times. He’d vary up his game from time to time.
“Here’s the thing with Ichi: it’s such a unique style. It’s not something you can break down. The way he’s gone about it, he’s had a great deal of success, swinging at good pitches or bad pitches, and doing things you just don’t see anyone else do. It’s not something you can just look at it and break it down and tell him, ‘You’ve got to do this.’
All great hitters know themselves better than anybody. All good hitters know themselves better than anybody. Having said that, I think he’s the extreme version of that.”
In other news, Wedge announced that left-handed Anthony Vasquez will come up from Class AAA Tacoma to start the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader. The Mariners will have to clear a spot on both the 25- and 40-man roster, 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 ERA 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.”
Brendan Ryan returns 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. I don’t make the lineup, but the idea is to play every single day, and start. Play all nine every day for the rest of the way. We’ll see. There could be a swing that doesn’t feel all that great. I saw what (former Cardinal teammate) Scott Rolen went through. I couldn’t even watch his at-bats. If he could do it, I can suck it up.”
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.”
Wedge believes Ryan is ready to play. “At this time of year, there is no 100 percent in baseball,’ he said. “You get out there when you can get out there, and you fight through it. He’s anxious to get out there; we need him out there. He should be OK.”
Rodriguez is still sore, though Wedge said he’s getting better. His availability will be determined at game-time.

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