Betancourt back in two-hole
Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt batted second in the lineup for the fourth time this season during today’s series finale against the Athletics, prompting KIRO radio’s Shannon Drayer to ask manager Don Wakamatsu how Yuni has performed batting that high in the lineup.
“I think you see little things,” Wakamatsu said. “He is taking more pitches and his walks are up, to a career high seven. That part of it is fine. But when you ask a guy to be a little more selective, does it change the other side of it?”
Betancourt was 2-for-8 with two walks in his first three games in the two-hole and his on-base percentage (.400) is encouraging, especially when you compare it to the .282 OBP as the ninth-place hitter, which is where he has been most of the season.
He’s not as aggressive batting second and the Mariners are still trying to find a happy medium with the 27-year-old project.
“It’s all part of the education,” Wakamatsu said. “We’ve had struggles in the two-hole all year and have to find some consistency there.”
A little consistency from the 3-4-5 spots also would help. The Mariners are getting way too little production from the middle of the lineup.
Ichiro, who went into today’s game with a 20-game hitting streak, has scored just 16 runs all season, which is a staggering number considering he has been on base so often.
In other news, injured catcher Kenji Johjima (broken left big toe) has returned to Seattle to recupperate.
Wakamatsu said that when the team returns from this road trip, “We will start to do some upper-body exercises with him to try to do everyuthoing we can to keep him in shape.”
Johjima is expected to miss six to eight weeks of the season.
Backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz will start one of the three games in Anaheim.
*Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith will start for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday night, throw around 75 to 80 pitches and then rejoin the Mariners and throw a bullpen session, at which time a decision will be made on when he will return to the starting rotation.
The best guess is that it would be during the next road trip.
*Right-handed reliever Roy Corcoran had no ill-affects from his simulated game in Oakland will have another one in Anaheim before being sent out on a rehab assignment.
*Second baseman Jose Lopez, who is in an 0-for-9 skid, was given today off and replaced by Ronny Cedeno.
“Lopey has some leg tighteness,” Wakamatsu said. “He could have played today,but it’s paramount to keep Ronny in the mix.”
— Jim Street