Wednesday’s Mariners lineup is out and while Eric Wedge isn’t benching the slumping Justin Smoak, he’s certainly giving him a new look for today’s 4:05 p.m. game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Smoak is hitting just .190 in 21 games with three home runs and nine RBIs, not the kind of first month anybody was hoping for from the big guy, including Smoak himself obviously.
So Wedge is giving Smoak the “half day off” today, putting him at DH and inserting Alex Liddi at first. More significantly, the skipper has dropped Smoak to seventh in the batting order.
Jesus Montero, who went 4-for-4 last night, is hitting cleanup tonight and catching, the first time he’s caught back-to-back games this season.
That means no Mike Carp in the lineup yet and no John Jaso either against Tampa Bay right hander James Shields.
We’ll talk to Wedge shortly and update with his thoughts on Mariners.com.
Here’s today’s full lineup:
Chone Figgins LF
Dustin Ackley 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jesus Montero C
Kyle Seager 3B
Alex Liddi 1B
Justin Smoak DH
Michael Saunders CF
Brendan Ryan SS
Blake Beavan P
Tough night at Tropicana Field for the Mariners here in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. A game where they outhit the Rays 9-3, but couldn’t get much out of that in losing a 3-1 decision.
You can sense a little frustration in some players, understandably. This club seems to have a lot of the right pieces to the puzzle, but things haven’t quite all fit together yet. Maybe the last piece is hitting with runners in scoring position, where the Mariners are a ridiculous 0-for-30 over the last four games.
You don’t win doing that. I presume the law of averages will start coming around a bit in that regard, but the Mariners themselves have to help that process by stepping up in the clutch, doing the little things to advance runners and finishing off rallies that seem stuck in the starting gate too often.
That said, the club doesn’t seem to be tight. The group is young, for the most part, but they have an interesting bond that was evident again today when five players took the unusual opportunity to go up in the catwalks 200 feet above the Tropicana Field turf about four hours before the game.
There are some adventureous sorts on this team, guys who bonded further in the trip to Japan and don’t mind pushing the envelope to see the world. Relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Steve Delabar are at the front of that group, two guys who were out of baseball for a while and seem to understand these opportunities don’t come around all the time.
They both went up to check out the top of the Trop — something Tampa Bay writers said they’ve never seen before from a visiting team — along with fellow relievers Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush and outfielder Casper Wells.
It was a fun deal and a fun story with some great quotes from all those involved, which you can read in full here.
Sure, it would have been even funner if the night had ended with a victory. Four of the five wound up playing. Wells didn’t get a hit, but his 13-pitch strikeout in the second inning was a tremendous battle with Matt Moore and helped drive the lefty’s pitch count up early.
Luetge, Delabar and Furbush all pitched in relief, combining for 2 1/3 innings with no hits or runs.
I’m guessing they’ll remember their trip to the top of the Trop for a long time. Too bad they didn’t get a win to cap it off.
Mike Carp, who has been on the disabled list since Opening Day after spraining his right shoulder diving for a ball in the Tokyo Dome, is rejoining the Mariners in Tampa today to take the roster spot created by catcher Miguel Olivo’s injury.
The Mariners haven’t made the move official yet, but manager Eric Wedge talked of that possibility after Monday’s 3-2 loss in 12 innings and Carp confirmed that on his Twitter account Tuesday morning/
“On my way to Tampa to meet with The Big Club…. DL stint finally over. Happy to be healthy an ready to go,” Carp wrote on his @CarpusMaximus20 account.
Olivo strained his right groin muscle while fielding a ball in front of the plate and turning quickly to throw to first base while his foot planted in the Tropicana Field turf. He had to be helped off the field and was on crutches after the game, when he said the pain was pretty intense, worse than when he had a similar injury in the 2011 spring training that kept him out three weeks.
Carp has been playing in Tacoma for nearly three weeks on a rehab stint. He’s struggled at the plate while regaining his timing, batting just .137 (7-for-51) with two doubles and four RBIs in 13 games. But he did have hits in three of his last four outings.
Carp developed into one of the Mariners’ key young bats last season when he excelled following a midseason call-up from Triple A, hitting .276 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 79 games.
Carp figures to fill the designated hitter spot when Montero is behind the plate, or offer another option in left field once his arm is 100 percent. He’d been playing mostly DH and a little first base in Tacoma.
Wedge said Monday night that Montero and John Jaso would split time at catcher in Olivo’s absence. The team expects to learn more about the severity of his injury during tests today in Tampa.