From different sides of the Mariner clubhouse, covering two different experiences, the verdict was the same: The heat is on, and much of it’s self-induced.
“I just put so much pressure on myself at times,” said Brendan Ryan, replaced at shortstop by Robert Andino at least in the near-term. “The thing with me, you know what you get defensively, that there should be so little pressure offensively. I know how athletic I am. I know there’s so much more there.
“I just try too hard, I don’t know. I get in my own way.”
Across the way was Michael Morse, who got off to a sizzling start, then was hit in the right hand by a pitch against Texas April 11, breaking his pinky finger. He’s hit just .162 since.
“It has nothing to do with my finger; I’m not hitting,” Morse insisted. “I need to make an adjustment. I’ve got to play better.
“I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. I just need to go out and relax and have fun.”
Like Ryan, Morse was out of the lineup Thursday night in the opener of the Angels series. But his respite will likely be a short one.
“He still feels it,” says manager Eric Wedge. “I felt from yesterday to tomorrow night is probably the greatest (rest) we can give him. It’s another week before we get an off-day. He still feels it, but it’s improving. It’s going to take some time.”
Indeed, while Morse said he’s not into excuse-making, he conceded that the short break would do the finger good. At the same time, he said, “I’m just being overly aggressive, trying to do too much. I’m getting myself out.”
Ryan, meanwhile, was introspective about his plate struggles and the demotion. He’s in the midst of a 1-for-25 funk that has dropped his average to .143.
“It’s humbling, and your confidence takes a hit, that’s obvious,” he said. “That’s one of the most important things in this game – (dealing with) the amount of failure. You’ve got to believe that every time you step in the box something good’s going to happen.
“It’s not like it’s a developmental year, and I’m not at a developmental part of my career. It’s a chance to take a step back and take two steps forward at some point.”
Ryan has an experience to draw upon. He went through a similar slump in St. Louis in 2010, was benched and came back and “got the job done. I hit .260-something in the second half.”
While the first month of the season isn’t yet in the books, the M’s are getting as impatient as some of their fans.
“We’re better than this,” said Morse. “Our team’s better than this, and we know it. It’s early, but at the same time, this is the season.”
— OF Michael Saunders, on the disabled list since April 10 with a sprained shoulder, could start a rehab assignment as early as Friday in Tacoma as a designated hitter, says Wedge.
— An MRI on OF Franklin Gutierrez’ hamstring showed a grade one strain, and he’ll be lost for “2-3 weeks,” Wedge said. “We’re dinged up. It is what it is. But we’ve got a lot of major-league players out here capable of winning games.”
— Kyle Seager’s 10 doubles in April is only two behind Edgar Martinez’ club record for the month, set in 1996.
— In a small, five-game sample size, the M’s are averaging 4.8 runs a game against lefthanded starters, while scoring only 2.72 a game against righties in 18 games.