Seager back in cleanup role Tuesday

Seattle Mariners v New York YankeesAfter dropping Kyle Seager out of the cleanup spot for the first four games following Corey Hart’s return from the disabled list, manager Lloyd McClendon had his All-Star third baseman back at No. 4 in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Twins.

Seager has hit .296 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 21 games batting cleanup this year with an .880 OPS. The Mariners won two of four games with Hart back in that spot, but the right-hander was just 2-for-14 (.143) and McClendon made the decision to drop him to sixth on Tuesday below Seager and Logan Morrison with another right-hander on the mound for the Twins in Phil Hughes.

“Obviously Seager hitting behind Robbie with a righty on the mound makes sense,” McClendon said. “LoMo is swinging the bat well. And it takes a little of the pressure off Corey as well out of that four-spot against a right-hander. Hopefully we can get him to relax a little more down there and maybe get a few more pitches to hit.”

The Mariners are 13-8 with Seager hitting fourth, 3-1 with Morrison there and 17-17 with Hart.

“Seager did a great job hitting there,” McClendon said. “So did LoMo. So I like those three guys lining up against the righty.”

McClendon said he’s still not ready to announce Thursday’s starter against the Twins, which opened up when Felix Hernandez was pushed back a day to face the A’s on Friday.

McClendon said he’ll likely reveal that decision on Wednesday. But while the skipper keeps saying he has options, all signs point to the club going with an all bullpen day and taking advantage of having eight current relievers — and an upcoming All-Star break after Sunday — to piece together a group to face the Twins.

Tom Wilhelmsen and Brandon Maurer are both capable of throwing three innings, which would then just leave a few more innings for the ‘pen to pick up if all went well. But McClendon would presumably want to see how much his bullpen is needed the next two nights before making that call.

Erasmo Ramirez would be the logical option from Tacoma, but he threw six innings and 79 pitches in his last outing Sunday for the Rainiers and thus would have to throw on just three day’s rest. Jordan Pries, another Tacoma pitcher who has been throwing well (5-5, 2.97 ERA in 15 starts) is starting Tuesday night in Salt Lake City, so he’s definitely not in consideration.

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