After slotting Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse in the 3-4 spots the first two games of the series, Mariners manager Eric Wedge has put Kyle Seager back in the three hole for the first time since Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
“I’m playing around with it a little bit,” Wedge said before Sunday’s game. “I still stand by the fact Morales and Morse and trying to do too much. They know they’re ‘the guys’ here.”
Morales is hitting .262 but with limited power – three homers and 14 RBIs. Morse, on the other hand, has been a big source of power for the M’s with nine homers but is hitting only .220, after three years of .289, .303 and .291 with the Nationals. He was also hampered by a broken pinky finger in April.
“You see both of them chasing a little bit more than you should be chasing,” said Wedge. “And you start trying to do a little more than you should be trying to do, when sometimes, you gotta just lay the bat down (take a walk) and let the next guy try it. They’re not gonna come into the zone unless you allow them to.”
Playing into the equation is Seager’s continued strong effort at the plate. He’s hitting .287, and in Wedge’s words, “is a very mature young hitter. There’s not much we can give him he can’t handle. He’s proven that.”
Wedge says that in the big picture, he sees Seager as a No. 2, 3 or possibly a 5 hitter, but in the short term, much of the Mariner lineup revolves around the progress of Morales and Morse.
“When you bring somebody over here and they’re ‘the guys,’ it’s a little bit different from when they’re the secondary guy, and they know that,” Wedge said.
Ackley takes a rest
Wedge is giving second baseman Dustin Ackley, who is 1 for 12 over his past three games, the day off. Still, Ackley has had a good run over his past 21 games, hitting safely in 16.
“I had a good talk with him earlier,” said Wedge. “He’s done a great job of kind of fixing himself fundamentally. I just need to give him a break mentally. These guys want it so bad – I respect the hell out of it – they want it so bad their heart gets in the way. He just needs to trust his ability.
“Sometimes a day off, especially a day before an off-day (the M’s have a travel day to New York Monday), can be a big help.”
Reliever Stephen Pryor is starting to play catch, Wedge said, in his recovery from a tear in the right latissimus dorsi (side) muscle, but his return date is indefinite.
“That injury’s going to take a little time,” Wedge said. “For a pitcher and a guy his size (6-4, 250), it is a tricky spot. We’ll evaluate him after this road trip and kind of go from there.”
The nine-game trip through New York, Cleveland and Anaheim takes the M’s through May 22.
It’s been a spectacular fall from grace for Philip Humber, the Houston pitcher who, as a member of the White Sox, threw a perfect game at the Mariners April 21 of last year.
The lowly Astros just designated Humber for assignment, after he compiled a 9.59 ERA and 2.02 WHIP for them in the first six weeks of the season. Humber was 0-8, and after five weeks in the Houston starting rotation, he was demoted to the bullpen. But he allowed five hits and five runs Saturday in two-thirds of an inning against Texas, and that was the last straw for the Astros.