Wells leading off; Smoak-Carp decision looming

Casper Wells is getting his first chance to lead off for the Mariners in today’s 10:40 a.m. PT game at Tampa Bay as Eric Wedge moved most of his available right-handers up in the batting order while giving struggling second baseman Dustin Ackley the day off against Rays lefty Matt Moore.

Wells hit leadoff twice for the Tigers last year — and ripped a leadoff home run off Ted Lilly of the Dodgers in one of those games — but has never been in that role in Seattle. But Wedge continues trying different hitters there while keeping Ichiro in the No. 2 spot.

“I’m giving Ackley the day, so with a left-hander on the mound I wanted to get a right-hander up top if we could,” Wedge said pregame. “So I just moved Montero up to the three-hole and the veteran Olivo in the four-hole. Moore’s never seen him before, so we’ll see if that does anything for us.

“Wells has been putting up competitive at-bats. Obviously it’s been a tough couple days offensively, so we’ll see if that triggers anything offensively.”

It can’t be easy for Wedge making out lineups these days, with Ackley hitting .156 in July and Smoak at .148. Both showed brief signs of life in Kansas City, but haven’t followed that up in Tampa.

“Inconsistent,” Wedge said of their progress. “Smoak has shown some signs from the right side, but still having some struggles from the right side. He’s looked better in BP. Ackley had it going there for a few days, but he’s had a tough couple days. I think it’s there, but they just haven’t been able to sustain it just yet.”

The club might be facing decision time with Smoak. Mike Carp’s 20-day Minor League rehab stint runs out Monday and he could take Smoak’s spot in the lineup and even on the roster if the Mariners decide to send Smoak down to Tacoma to straighten things out.

“I don’t want to speculate on that,” Wedge said. “I want to take it day-by-day. We’ll see how today goes and take it from there. Obviously we’ve got a lot of moving parts. We optioned Pryor yesterday, I want to see how Gutierrez’s [medical] exam goes tomorrow, we have to get Ramirez out. And Carp is obviously ahead of that. We’ll just take it day by day and see what happens.”

The one problem with Carp is he hasn’t been hitting particularly well in Tacoma, batting .218 in 14 games. Is Carp ready to return?

“He should be,” Wedge said. “He’s been playing a lot of first base. We’ll wait to the very end to completely evaluate and make a decision, but he’s been playing a lot of first base and getting a lot of ABs and that’s what you’re looking for. We’ll evaulate and make sure he’s healthy at the end and go from there.”

Carp can just remain on the 15-day disabled list after Monday without being recalled to Seattle, but wouldn’t be able to play in the Minor Leagues beyond that point.

Meanwhile, here’s today’s full lineup:

Casper Wells LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jesus Montero DH
Miguel Olivo C
Kyle Seager 2B
Justin Smoak 1B
Michael Saunders CF
Chone Figgins 3B
Brendan Ryan SS

Blake Beavan RHP


Can I put my name in for leadoff hitter?

Smoak’s swing is very bulky. Has he ever considered chocking up a bit to shorten his swing like Barry Bonds did?

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