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May 14, 2012 at 2:57 PM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says Ichiro needs to get it going from No. 3 spot in the order

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Greeting from Fenway Park, where as you can see from the video above, the grounds crew has been kept busy this afternoon, putting the rain tarp on, then pulling it off, putting it on and then yanking it off yet again. Right now, it’s still off and it looks like we’ll have a window for tonight’s game.
As for tomorrow, it’s up in the air.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge has Kyle Seager in at second base tonight, so he could get Alex Liddi another go at third base. Dustin Ackley is in the lineup, but at DH. Casper Wells gets another crack at left field after yesterday’s feats at Yankee Stadium, which included several good defensive plays.
Wedge is pleased about Ackley’s work in the leadoff role, but admitted that finding a solid No. 2 hitter remains a work in progress. Seager might be one of those suited for it, but for now, Wedge prefers not to have three left-handed hitters leading off the game. He might eventually have to go that route, but is trying other stuff first.
One thing Wedge did say is that Ichiro needs to pick it up a bit in the No. 3 spot in the order.
“I’m hoping we can get a little more production out of Ichiro in the three-hole too,” Wedge said.
I asked him in what way.
“Driving in runs,” Wedge said. “Hitting at key points in time, particularly late in a ballgame. He’s the one veteran guy that we consistently have in the lineup that we need to produce for us.”
Ichiro is hitting .285, but his on-base percentage is .329 and his slugging percentage is .389 for an OPS of .718. Not quite what teams expect out of their No. 3 hitters.
With runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .222. That’s a big reason Ichiro has just 13 runs batted in, despite hitting in the middle of the order all season. Justin Smoak has 12 RBI despite season-long struggles at the plate.


We’ve gotten into this before, how the top third of the Mariners order looks a little miscast. Ackley’s a guy who many scouts projected to be a No. 2 hitter or a No. 3 hitter for some weaker clubs — Seattle being one of them.
But he can also lead off. The problem, though, became who would hit second once he left.
And Ichiro, for all the talk of changing his approach and stance this spring, hasn’t really seen any serious jump in his results. He’s hit some balls harder with some additional singles, but the extra-base power really isn’t there.
Anyhow, at least he’s hitting .285, which is better than six other guys in tonight’s starting lineup. But we’ll see whether this No. 3 stuff lasts all season.
Had a chance to chat with Kevin Millwood today about notching his 2,000th strikeout yesterday when he fanned Curtis Granderson.
Millwood kept the ball for his oldest son, K.J. (short for Kevin Jr.). His youngest son, Conley, got to keep his baseball cap.
“I knew I was only two away and then I knew when I got Granderson that I had it, so I remembered to ask for the ball,” Millwood said.
Millwood said it never really crossed his mind early in his career that he might reach a milestone like that. But he’d fanned a lot of hitters early in his career and as he kept getting new deals to prolong his career, the bigger strikeout numbers began piling up.
“I obviously don’t strike out as many guys any more,” he said. “I didn’t think about it that much until the off-season when I looked and saw I was pretty close. So, after last year, when I wasn’t sure whether I’d make it back, this was pretty special. I’m just glad it’s over and I was able to do it.”
The lineups:
MARINERS
DH Dustin Ackley
LF Casper Wells
RF Ichiro
C Jesus Montero
1B Justin Smoak
2B Kyle Seager
3B Alex Liddi
CF Michael Saunders
SS Brendan Ryan
LHP Jason Vargas
RED SOX
SS Mike Aviles
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Will Middlebrooks
RF Cody Ross
LF Daniel Nava
CF Marlon Byrd
C Kelly Shoppach
LHP Jon Lester

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Jesus Montero

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