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July 24, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Tuesday notes: Mariners proceed with life after Ichiro

Here’s today’s lineup:
Mariners (42-56)
13 Dustin Ackley (L) 2B
55 Michael Saunders (L) CF
63 Jesus Montero DH
27 John Jaso (L) C
15 Kyle Seager (L) 3B
33 Casper Wells LF
20 Mike Carp (L) 1B
4 Carlos Peguero (L) RF
26 Brendan Ryan SS
34 Felix Hernandez RHP
Yankees (58-38)
2 Derek Jeter SS
14 Curtis Granderson (L) CF
13 Alex Rodriguez 3B
24 Robinson Cano (L) 2B
25 Mark Teixeira (S) 1B
27 Raul Ibanez (L) LF
12 Eric Chavez (L) DH
31 Ichiro Suzuki (L) RF
19 Chris Stewart C
36 Freddy Garcia RHP
As you can see, Ichiro is back in right field and hitting eighth. He’s playing right while Nick Swisher recovers from a hip injury, but when Swisher returns — likely by Friday — Ichiro will primarily play left, Joe Girardi has said, and Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones will be mainly at DH.
When I went into the clubhouse today at about 3:30, who should I see walking out the door but Ichiro. He came back to clean out his locker and say goodbye to Mariner players he didn’t get a chance to talk to yesterday.
“Everybody came up to him and talked to him,” said newly arrived Mike Carp. “It’s tough t say goodbye to a legend like that, but we wish him the best of luck. I was able to say goodbye to him. I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him. I just thanked him for everything. He’s a true inspiration. No one’s done what he does. Hopefully, he keeps adding to those records. I want to see him win.”
Carp and Trayvon Robinson , also arrived here today from the Tacoma roster, had just finished a day game in Colorado Springs yesterday and were boarding the bus for the airport when the Ichiro news broke.

“I was in shock,” Carp said. “It’s one of those things where I never expected a guy like that to leave. But obviously it’s best for the organization. We’re going young, and it’s time to really kick it into gear. He’s the last piece, and I wish him the best. He really has a chance to go to the World Series now. He wasn’t going to do that in the immediate future with us. This gives him a good opportunity to put another piece of hardware on his mantle.”
Said Robinson: “What he did for the game of baseball, especially for the Mariners – he’s an icon, a rock star. To play centerfield next to him, and especially my debut, I was in left field, he was in right field, was awesome. I’ll cherish it for the rest of my life.”
With Justin Smoak going down, Carp will become the primary first baseman, manager Eric Wedge said, with Dustin Ackley also getting some time. At some point, Jesus Montero or John Jaso might get work at first, but Wedge doesn’t seem in any hurry to do that. Carp was hitting just .220 in his rehab stint at Tacoma, but Wedge said Tacoma manager Daren Brown told him Carp was swinging better than the average indicated.
“I’m just getting stronger, getting consistent again,” Carp said. “I was trying to get the shoulder healthy and strong again, because it was really affecting my swing. I was trying to break the bad habits I created when I tried to come back a little too early. (Tacoma hitting coach Jeff) Pentland was awesome. We had some good talks, and a lot of good work, and I feel I’m ready to go.”
I asked him if his shoulder was 100 percent. “I feel pretty good. I still have in my mind, I guess, a little anxiety. I’m trying to get over that still. But I’ve been playing every day and getting a lot of at-bats, a lot of first base. I haven’t had any setbacks. Things are good. I expect to go forward from here, and get stronger, and hopefully get back to where I was last year. Maybe better.”
As for Robinson, Wedge said he’ll be a backup outfielder. He was hitting .265 for Tacoma, and Wedge said the reports are that he’s improved his all-around game since last year’s major-league stint. Robinson said that’s what he was striving for.
“I thought I’ve played pretty good baseball,” he said. “The average wasn’t there. It is what it is. As far as playing the game, I felt I did a better job helping the team win – getting in scoring position, stealing bases, getting every opportunity for someone to drive me in.”
He was thrilled to get the call from Brown this morning in Tacoma to head north.
“I’m pretty much just as excited getting called back up as I was last year,” he said. “It was just finding a way to get back here, and now I’m looking to stay here. I’d like to stay here.”
Wedge had some interesting comments about the Mariners’ lineup, moving forward, and the fact it’s likely to remain in flux.
“I think everyone needs to understand. You look around baseball – the days of having a consistent lineup, unless you’re a veteran, veteran team, are gon,” he said. “It’s not just the Seattle Mariners. Check around the board. Check the lineups they’re sending over. It’s just the way it is.
“When you have a young team, you’re not going to have a set lineup, because you don’t know what you have just yet. We don’t have a leadoff hitter or a three-hole hitter or a four-hole hitter. So you mix and match the beset lineup you can for that particular night. You work the guys to move them forward. We’re a ways away from having a consistent lineup. Nobody’s smart enough to know exactly what each of these young players is going to be. We just don’t know. That’s why you keep putting them in different spots and keep trying them out.
“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is win baseball games. You put the lineup out there that has the best balance. We’re left-handed heavy. You put a lineup out there that tries to have the best balance, which makes it tougher for them.”

Comments | Topics: Brendan Ryan, Jesus Montero


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