SEATTLE MARINERS

Wedge sees progress in loss plus news and notes

May 15, 2012, 6:48 PM

By Shannon Drayer

The Mariners suffered their fifth shut out loss of the season falling 5-0 to the Red Sox. It goes without saying, but I guess I will say it anyway, the offense is still mired in it’s gargantuan struggle.

Four hits for the Mariners in game two against Boston, only two hits with less than two outs. Blake Beavan’s performance was not great, but that is no way to score runs. After the game Eric Wedge chose to look at the positives. When asked if he saw was a repeat of Monday night’s game he said no.

“Different from last night. I felt like we had nine or ten hard outs today. Seager put up four good at bats, Smoak hit the ball hard a couple of times, I like Saunders approach up there now.”

“We still had some poor abs with a few guys,” he continued, “and we have got to do a better job with that but we have got four or five guys heading in the right direction. What we need to do is get the other four or five heading in the right direction along with them.”

Wedge was choosing to go with the glass half full approach after the game. Perhaps that’s what his young hitters need right now. While he has been tough with his veterans in the media in the last few days he remains careful with the young players who most likely will be a part of the core of the Mariners going forward. He no doubt believes that this is the best way to handle them right now.

I don’t know what the end result will be but I can tell you that I have seen a difference in Justin Smoak. A week ago before and after the games he had the same weight of the world on his shoulders look he had when he first came over to the Mariners. It was concerning. We even saw it in batting practice a couple times. He looked like he was defeated before he stepped into the cage. What changed?

He found a little success. Wedge pulled him aside during batting practice Friday in New York and had a talk with him. He told him to let go of what he was trying to do at the plate, all of the adjustments he was trying to make and told him to just try and see the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and get out in front of it. He didn’t necessarily want him to try to pull the ball, but he wanted him to give him a chance to hit the fastball. He took it into the game and went 3 x 4. A little bit of desperately needed success to build on which he did going 8 x 16 coming into tonight’s game.

Tonight he put up an o-fer but was one of the players Wedge was talking about when he said he liked what he saw in his outs. For his part Smoak was not going to see his recent success derailed by one hitless night.

“The last couple of days it has been a lot better,” he said. “I have started to turn some fastballs around and laying off some of the off speed pitches. I felt like I had some good ab’s today, you know line drives and even the strikeout I feel like I should have done something with the balls I fouled off but I feel better and I feel like I am right on things right now.”

Let’s hope so. For as much of a mess the lineup has been solidifying Smoak in the cleanup spot in the lineup could help other parts fall into place.

News and notes…For those of you who have suggested moving Kyle Seager to short in order to see more of Alex Liddi, don’t hold your breath. Wedge once more today said that Seager was not an option at short. Not a surprise. What was a surprise was someone else he said he could put there. “I might consider playing Liddi at shortstop,” he said. “If you locked in on him in his pregame, he is all over it. All over with intensity.” The focus still is getting Brendan Ryan going but he did allow for the possibility of playing Liddi at short or left. He also said that he would like to get him in against righties as well…Ichiro is still a hot topic for discussion. Wedge was asked if we could see him moved back to the leadoff spot soon and he said no. “Right now my focus is just for him to be more productive in the three-hole. He’s a smart guy, there’s nothing I need to say to him. He has his unique approach to hitting and it has to work. I would like him to be a little more timely particularly late in ball games. He is the one veteran player we have in the lineup and we need him help pick up these younger kids.”…Wedge and the coaches will take a look at Miguel Olivo for a few days when they return to Seattle and determine if he looks ready to send out an a rehab assignment. Olivo has been working out at Safeco Field while the team has been away and has also caught a couple of bullpens in Tacoma…Franklin Gutierrez will receive a final treatment for his plantar fasciitis on Monday. After that he will have to stay off the heel for a week and then he should be able to resume workouts. Still no word on when he could return but Wedge admitted today that mid June would be the absolute earliest we could see him in Seattle…

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Wedge sees progress in loss plus news and notes