Wedge gives slumping Ichiro a rare day off
Eric Wedge hasn’t hesitated to give players days off when they’ve struggled this season and that trend continued Friday when the Mariners skipper sat down Ichiro Suzuki, who has been fighting a lengthy batting slump.
Ichiro’s string of consecutive starts will end at 255 when the Mariners take on the Tigers at 4:05 p.m. PT at Comerica Park, with Carlos Peguero getting the nod in right field and Chone Figgins taking the leadoff duties in the batting order.
Ichiro has hit just 13-for-87 since May 19 as his batting average has tumbled to .252, the lowest it’s ever been at this point in the season during his 11 years in the Major Leagues.
We’ll meet with Wedge about 2:20 p.m. PT to hear his thoughts. Not sure if Ichiro will make himself available as well. He normally doesn’t speak with the media before games, but maybe today will be different.
Ichiro has played in 1,651 of the 1,683 possible games in his Mariners career, starting 1,635 of those. His 255 consecutive starts streak is the third most in Mariners history and the second-longest active streak in the Major Leagues behind the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (268).
The last time he didn’t start was Aug. 31, 2009 against the Angels when he was having hamstring problems.
Interesting decision by Wedge, but an understandable one given the way Ichiro has looked at the plate recently. The 37-year-old right fielder has reached 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons in Seattle, but currently is on pace for just 170 this year with 66 hits through 63 games.
Wedge went with two rookies in the outfield, with Greg Halman starting in left field and Peguero in right. Halman is 7-for-11 (.636) since being promoted from Triple-A last week, while Peguero is batting .221 with four home runs at 12 RBIs in 77 at-bats.
Ichiro’s on-base percentage of .306 is well below his career average of .376 and he’s yet to hit a home run, the longest streak without a long ball to open a season since he came to the U.S. in 2001.
Here’s today’s full lineup:
9 Chone Figgins (S) 3B
26 Brendan Ryan SS
17 Justin Smoak (S) 1B
29 Jack Cust (L) DH
4 Adam Kennedy (L) 2B
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
8 Carlos Peguero (L) RF
56 Greg Halman LF
5 Chris Gimenez C
45 Erik Bedard LHP