Raul Ibanez will be back in the lineup tonight despite the presence of left-handed starter Andy Pettitte on the mound for the New York Yankees. Ibanez has three home runs his last two games, nine homers in his last 11 games at Yankee Stadium and is now a career .283 hitter at the new Yankee Stadium with 19 homers, 50 RBI and a .953 OPS in 75 games.
That means Justin Smoak will sit out tonight’s game as Ibanez assumes the DH role.
“I wanted to play them all,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But I couldn’t do it. It’s just so we can keep Raul in there.”
Wedge has a lot on his mind today, with Aaron Harang a late scratch and Hector Noesi now starting. The Mariners could have started Brandon Maurer on his normal rest, but Wedge said he “didn’t think that was fair to him” at this stage of his career, given the change of day, opponent and venue involved.
As for Noesi, Wedge said he has to keep doing what’s made his successful as a long reliever so far.
“When he’s aggressive and aggressive on the plate with all his pitches, then it plays for him,” Wedge said. “When he picks a bit, or tries to guide the ball, that’s when he gets into trouble. Because you fall behind, have to come in and then it doesn’t matter what you’re throwing.
“But when he goes out there and really gets after it, that’s when he’s effective.”
In other news, Franklin Gutierrez is beginning his injury rehabilitation assignment as a DH with Class AAA Tacoma today. Josh Kinney will also be starting his rehab assignment there tomorrow night.
Wedge is on record saying Gutierrez will have to show he’s ready to play every day before he returns. In other words, the Mariners could take the entire 20 days of his rehab before calling him back up.
“He has to play, but I’m not looking for him just to be to the point where he can play up here,” Wedge said. “He’s got to be further than that so we can count on him. You now what I mean? 100 percent? I don’t know what 100 percent is any more. I don’t think there is 100 percent. But I know he’s got to be further along than he has been in the past before he comes back.”
Wedge said he’ll be in contact with coaches and trainers in AAA to hear about what they see from Gutierrez. For now, he’s not putting any timetable on his return.
“Of course we want him back,” Wedge said. “But we want to know we can count on him, too.”
Comments | More in pregame | Topics: hector noesi; raul ibanez; eric wedge; franklin gutierrez