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Salk: The Mariners are being nice to Ichiro, but now isn’t the time

Ichiro remained on the Mariners' roster when Erasmo Ramirez returned from the DL. (AP)

I can understand the Mariners’ decision to send down Guillermo Heredia instead of releasing Ichiro. I really can.

It’s all about flexibility.

Drayer: Servais explains decision to keep Ichiro, option Heredia

The Mariners planned to send down a reliever to make room for Erasmo Ramirez’s return from the disabled list, but they couldn’t after short outings by James Paxton (four innings Saturday) and Felix Hernandez (5 1/3 innings Friday). By optioning Heredia, he can come back after 10 days and will get playing time with Tacoma in the meantime. And no, I don’t care that he’s been OK vs. righties in a very short sample size anymore than I care that Ichiro was on base four times Sunday. This gives them the most options.

What I don’t like about it is the same thing I didn’t like about the Seahawks’ trade for Jimmy Graham. It goes against the way you have said you want to build a team. If you want to be athletic, you can’t achieve that by keeping Ichiro over Heredia. One is a viable option as a defensive replacement and a pinch runner. The other is not. It just doesn’t make as much sense from a day-to-day perspective. Essentially, Ichiro might make more sense as a third outfielder than Heredia, but not as a fourth outfielder.

But do I believe this is about selling tickets? No. Do I believe it is PR? No.

I think this: the Mariners want to be nice.

They have always been nice. They treat people well. They treat their fans well. They don’t fight their opponents (ever). Their ushers ask everyone to be nice. From the top of the organization to the bottom, they are pleasant to deal with. And that has its upside. But it is wrong in this case.

It is nice to try to win every year. It is wrong to never truly rebuild.

It’s nice to keep fan favorite Kyle Seager around, but you could have dealt him.

It’s nice to sign Felix to a big deal, but it isn’t as smart as it could be.

It is nice to show respect to team legends like Ichiro and Ken Griffey Jr. at the end of their careers. It isn’t always conducive to building a winning environment.

If I could offer any advice to this group, it would be to stop being so nice. Stop treating everyone so well. Make the tough decisions to win.

Mariners fall short of sweep, lose 7-4 to Rangers