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June 28, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Eric Wedge: Mariners will have to earn playing time

The Mariners take batting practice ahead of tonight's game versus Chicago Cus. If some of them don't start hitting during games, manager Eric Wedge says batting practice will be the only place they'll find themselves stepping to the plate.

The Mariners take batting practice ahead of tonight’s game versus Chicago Cus. If some of them don’t start hitting during games, manager Eric Wedge says batting practice will be the only place they’ll find themselves stepping to the plate.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge has Brad Miller starting at shortstop tonight and batting ninth. He also has Brendan Ryan on the bench.

And that could become the more permanent arrangment if Miller produces like the team hopes he will. Wedge compared the playing time Miller will get to what’s gone on with catcher Mike Zunino, who made the most of his chance and is now in there roughtly six days out of every seven.

“Very similar to Zunino,” Wedge said. “We’ll work off of him. He’s going to play. How much? We’ll see.”

Wedge said he spoke to Ryan about the situation and that he handled it like a pro.

Ryan’s batting average is down to .196.

“I told him to come to the ballpark ready to play every day and we’ll see how it plays out,” Wedge said.

But Wedge is tired of waiting on guys to hit.

“I’m a very patient man,” Wedge said. “I always have been a very patient man. I’m a very patient baseball person. But there’s a point in time where you’ve got to give others opportunity. There is always somebody coming…you’ve only got so many spots to play and we’re going to handle this as best we feel.”

Another guy who might have to watch out is Michael Saunders, who is not in the lineup tonight while Dustin Ackley makes his debut in center. The Mariners could have put Saunders in right field, but opted to use Endy Chavez there because he is their best option in the leadoff spot right now.

I asked Wedge how he plans to use Saunders going forward.

“I feel so confident with him at all three (outfield spots),” Wedge said of Saunders. “So, it just depends on who the other personnel are. We’ve got to get a read on Ackley in the outfield, whether it be in center field or left field. Endy (Chavez) can play all three, which helps. And the other guys can go left field or right field. So, we’ve got enough versatility to where it can work out.”

And Saunders’s playing time?

“He’s got to do better than what he’s doing,” Wedge said. “I think he’s been a little bit better the last couple of days, albeit inconsistent. He’s scratched the surface of what we think he’s capale of doing, in regards to last year and this year. But he’s been in a funk for a while, so hopefully he can get it back.”

We aso see Kendrys Morales in there at first base, meaning his back is feeling better. Justin Smoak loses out on the playing time, since there’s a left-hander on the mound and Smoak has been weaker batting from the right side.

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