Just got done speaking with Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who took his turn in front of the media here at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas.
Wedge was pretty clear that he doesn’t know where Ichiro will bat in next year’s order.
“I’m still not sure where I’m going to hit him in the order and I want him to understand that,” Wedge said, adding he’s met with Ichiro twice including a few days ago. “Because ultimately, I’m going to do what I feel like is best for our club.
“I’m going to put out the best nine, in the right order, in the order that I see fit. To score as many runs as we can. And if I feel like that’s him leading off, then that’s what we’re going to do. If I feel like that’s him hitting in the three-hole, that’s what we’re going to do. If I feel like it’s him hitting somewhere else, then that’s what we’re going to do.
“He told me last year in the middle of the season when I was talking to him that he wants to do whatever’s best for the ballclub. And he wants me to do whatever I feel is best for the ballclub. And I take him at his word and that’s what I’m going to do. And he’s been trememndous and he’s been communicative with me and I appreciate that.”
Wedge said he’s trying to keep the lines of communication open with him so that he doesn’t hear about anything in the media first.
On other players, Wedge says he’s prepared to go full-time with Mike Carp in left field, as opposed to in a platoon situation or as a designated hitter.
When I asked Wedge whether he was confident Carp could hit both righties and lefties on a daily basis, he replied: “I don’t ever like to put a guy in a position — especially young in their career — to where they’re platooning. You know what I mean? Like when we brought (Shin-Soo) Choo over to Cleveland (from Seattle) to give you guys an example of someone you know. It’s just real easy to do and I think it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s the wrong message to send a player. I’m not smart enough, you’re not smart enough to figure out whether he can or cannot hit against lefties. You have to watch him do it and watch him react to it. I’ve got a pretty good eye for what I feel like he’s going to play. From the right side or the left side against right-handers or left-handers and I think he’s going to be able to hit left-handers too.”
Now the caveat. All that will happen “unless something crazy happens this winter.”
Wedge said the team will be bringing in a number of players in January for evaluations of how they’ve dealt with injuries and conditioning. Franklin Gutierez will be one of those and Wedge today listed him as an “under the radar” guy who could bounce back and help the club this season. Wedge said Gutierrez has put on muscle weight and is better physically in that regard than he’d expected based on the reports he’s heard.
“I wanted to make sure the reports that were good are really good and not the reports I heard last winter,” Wedge said, in reference to when Gutierrez arrived in camp last spring with the same lingering stomach issues he’d had in 2010.
Wedge would love to plug Gutierrez into the No. 2 spot in the order.
When asked about the third base job, Wedge talked about how the team is certainly young at the position and mentioned wanting some veterans imported this year — though not necessarily at third. I asked him about Chone Figgins — as veteran as they come — and whether he’s still seen as an everyday third baseman.
“I’m not sure,” Wedge said. “I want him to be able to play all over the place. I don’t want to pigeon hole him. I don’t want to lock him into any position. I want him to be able to come into spring training prepared to play anywhere we need him to play.”