PHOTO CAPTION: “I dunno, Smoakamotive. If it was my bobblehead night and I wasn’t playing, I’d get the marketing guys to have me stand at those gates and hand the bobbleheads out personally, or something.”
Mariners leadoff man Dustin Ackley has appeared in 45 of his team’s 47 games already this season. I suppose he could have had a rest during that day game in Cleveland a while back, or one of those weekend contests in Denver.
But no, Ackley is getting his night off tonight. Which just happens to be Dustin Ackley Bobblehead Night at Safeco Field.
So much for the conspiracy theorists who believe everything this team does on the field is marketing driven. Apparently not.
Somebody asked manager Eric Wedge about it pregame.
“Oh, geez, is it?” Wedge said. “I didn’t get that memo.”
Ackley is sitting because the team is in the midst of a stretch of 20 consecutive games in which every player — except Ichiro, one supposes — is getting a bit of a break. Michael Saunders arrived at the ballpark tonight and saw his name penciled in as the new leadoff guy.
Saunders spent time at the leadoff spot in the minors, but never in the majors.
“I’ve been bounced around quite a bit in the lineup this year,” Saunders said. “Everywhere from second through ninth.”
And Saunders has no plans to change his approach now. Much like when he was promoted to the No. 2 spot nine days ago, he plans to stick with what got him there.
“Whether it’s leadoff, nine-hole, two-hole or whatever, I’m just going to be me and stay with my approach,” he said.
In other words, if he gets a first pitch right down the pipe, he’s swinging. He isn’t going to try to see more pitches for the rest of the team.
Other changes to the lineup?
Munenori Kawasaki is in at shortstop. Brendan Ryan gets the night off.
In some other news, that much-anticipated return of Franklin Gutierrez to the Mariners sometime next month might now actually be delayed until July. Gutierrez is still having soreness in his heel when he runs.
We told you when that plantar fasciitis problem was discovered that this is not the easiest thing in the world to get past. Players have had plenty of fits and starts in the past and Gutierrez is apparently no exception.
The team plans to keep him here through the weekend and have the training staff re-evaluate where he is. After that, they’ll decide whether to send him to extended spring training in Arizona early next week or keep him here some more.
At this rate, getting him back before the All-Star Break is sounding like a bonus.
CF Mike Trout
2B Maicer Izturis
1B Albert Pujols
DH Kendrys Morales
RF Mark Trumbo
3B Alberto Callaspo
SS Erick Aybar
LF Kole Calhoun
C John Hester
RHP Ervin Santana
CF Michael Saunders
3B Alex Liddi
2B Kyle Seager
1B Justin Smoak
DH John Jaso
C Jesus Montero
LF Mike Carp
SS Munenori Kawasaki
RHP Blake Beavan