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April 23, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Franklin to start in right field

Nick Franklin will start in right field for the Mariners today against the Houston Astros.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said he’s looking to Franklin to be a spark for an offense that could desperately use it. The Mariners have struck out 14 times in each of the last two games against the Astros.

Franklin, who played second base last season, played in right field for the first time on Tuesday night, when he entered the game in the seventh inning. He is not as good defensively as some of McClendon’s other options, but the intrigue of his bat makes it a worthwhile gamble. (Franklin, though, has just one hit in 13 at-bats since being recalled last week).

“Nick played the outfield,” McClendon said. “He’s not a neophyte with the outfield. In fact, in spring training he looked real good in the outfield. He looked very comfortable out there. But I think he probably just needs to get that first fly ball out of the way and he’ll be fine.”

McClendon added, “Listen, I was a catcher and I converted to the outfield. If I can play the outfield, anyone can play the outfield. Because I couldn’t run worth a damn. These guys are a lot more athletic than I was. If they put the proper amount of time in work wise, they’ll be fine. They’ll get it done.”

Ramirez starting spot in jeopardy?: Erasmo Ramirez’s spot in the starting rotation might not be his for much longer. When asked if he was considering making a change with Ramirez, McClendon paused and then said, “Yeah, I would say that’s a fair assessment. I’m not sure what we’re going to do as of right now.”

McClendon said a lot of the decision has to do with the health of Hisashi Iwakuma, who is scheduled to make a start for Class AAA Tacoma on Sunday.

Ramirez is 1-3 with a a 6.75 ERA in five starts. He gave up three runs in six innings on Tuesday, but McClendon still didn’t sound too pleased with Ramirez after the game.

Ackley back to the eighth spot: McClendon said he will move Dustin Ackley back to the eighth spot in the order. Ackley batted second the last two games, but he hit second the last two games and struck out six times.

“I was just trying to get a spark,” McClendon said. “It didn’t work. I was wrong with that. But I tried. I like him in the eighth spot, and it was probably my mistake. I should have left him in the eighth spot because he’s done very well down there. I’m going to do it my way. He’s going back to the eighth spot.”

Ackley is hitting .316 in 10 games as the eighth hitter this season. He’s hitting .161 everyone else in the order. McClendon said he’s going to leave Ackley in the eighth spot until at least the All-Star break.

Leone been ‘dominant’: McClendon also had some interesting things to say about 22-year-old reliever Dominic Leone, including that Leone will soon be a late-inning guy.

Leone, who the Mariners selected in the 16th round of the 2012 draft, has a 1.69 ERA in seven appearances this season.

“A very dominating young man,” McClendon said. “Probably pitched more than I would have liked him to pitch to this point because of the circumstances with our starting pitching, but I think he has a very bright future. And I think he’s going to be a late-inning guy very, very soon.”

About the home run gave up on Tuesday night, McClendon said,

“Shocked the hell out of me. I guess he’s human after all. He’s pretty damn good.”

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