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May 2, 2012 at 9:13 PM

Struggles continuing for Figgins, Ryan, Smoak, tough decisions looming

(Luke Scott greeted after his sixth-inning homer that proved decisive in Tampa Bay’s 5-4 win on Wednesday).
The Mariners are obviously facing some decisions on three players who are getting mired deeper and deeper into slumps. Justin Smoak went 0-for-3 (albeit with a hard-hit ball in the eighth with runners on first and third that was caught in right). He is now hitting .184. Chone Figgins went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and is hitting .198. Brendan Ryan struck out in all three of his at-bats and is completely lost, now hitting .125. Ryan has gone 26 at-bats without a hit. Those three are now 8-for-77 (.104) on this road trip.
Something’s got to give, especially as the Mariner losing streak reached five games with Wednesday’s 5-4 loss. Manager Eric Wedge already made a move tonight with Smoak, taking him out of the cleanup spot and dropping him down to seventh. Does Smoak need to go down to Triple-A Tacoma to iron out his problems? It has to be discussed. Smoak does have options remaining.

Is it time to pull the plug completely on Figgins, despite the money owed him — the remainder of $9 million for this season, and a full $8 million next season? It has to be discussed. The day of reckoning is nearing. Short of that, you have to at least wonder how much longer Wedge will keep running Figgins out there. Hitting him leadoff was supposed to put Figgins back in his comfort zone, the final resort to get him on track after two disappointing years in Seattle. It hasn’t worked. Wedge indicated Figgins will start on Thursday because he is 7-for-14 in his career against Tampa Bay starter Jeff Niemann. Beyond that, he had no promises for Figgins or Ryan.
“It’s not carte blanche here,” he said. “Figgins has numbers off this guy tomorrow so we’ll give him another chance to see if he can get himself going, but it doesn’t last forever. I am patient. It’s a long season, and we’re 25 games in and have 130-some odd to play.
“But ultimately it’s about producing. If they’re not getting it done, then we’ll have to change their roles. The strikeouts are just ridiculous to me right now. These guys are better than that. Whether it be zoning up early or throughout the course of the count or sticking your nose in their with two strikes, this is not going to continue to happen, because we’re not going to let it happen. If we have to change the personnel, then so be it. If we have to change the roles, then so be it. But ultimately they’ve got to show me a reason to keep on playing.”
I’d expect to see Munenori Kawasaki at shortstop on Thursday. Ryan is completely lost right now. Can Kyle Seager — who had a huge day with two homers and a single — play short on a regular basis? That would make it easier for Wedge to get Alex Liddi, Mike Carp and/or Casper Wells more playing time. There are legitimate questions about Seager’s defensive ability at shortstop. But, again, it’s worth discussing, right?. (No, Carlos Triunfel is not ready, nor is Nick Franklin, to people who have brought those names up. Not yet, anyway.
The whole “it’s still early” argument is beginning to fade. It’s getting close to time for the Mariners to make some tough decisions — if that time isn’t already here.
Here’s today’s Seattle Time’s poll:

Which weekend sports are you most looking forward to?

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins


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