Wedge challenges veterans; they listen

Mariners notebook: Figgins comes up with 3-hit effort vs. Tigers, Olivo smacks his first homer of 2012

larry.larue@thenewstribune.comApril 27, 2012 

DETROIT – The Seattle Mariners’ manager didn’t quite throw down the gauntlet Thursday so much as lay it out where his players could see it – in the media.

In the beginning, Eric Wedge was asked what he thought about Dustin Ackley batting leadoff a night earlier.

“I like him there. Maybe that’s where he ends up,” Wedge said. “We’re still giving (Chone) Figgins an opportunity there, but he has to do it, simple as that.

“I’ve seen a lot of swings and misses there right now. That’s something he has to rectify.”

Figgins, who was batting .206 when Wedge said that, had a three-hit game Thursday, scored one run and drove in another.

Wedge was asked about his veteran players not producing – players such as Figgins and Miguel Olivo.

“With Olivo, you see him start to get it going a little bit. That’s a powerful bat,” Wedge said. “We don’t have a lot of that. You start to see that coming. That’s why you want to give them some time.

“It’s a balancing act with the kids and giving veterans space. Space for the veterans is not endless.”

Olivo, batting .164 before the game, hit his first home run of the season in Seattle’s one-run win.

Wedge then talked about why he liked having veterans on an otherwise young team.

“You gotta have a veteran presence. It’s enough on the kids already, when they have to count on themselves,” he said. “If we don’t have that, it takes them longer to get there, I know that.

“They take on too much themselves. We’re all human, these guys aren’t robots. They have hearts, brains and something else, too.”

What 2012 is about, he insisted, is more than development.

“We are here to win. I expect to win because I expect these guys to come here and do well each day,” Wedge said. “They’re learning, yes, but bottom line is producing. Part of our development is finding a way to win.”

A few hours later, the Mariners won their third game in a row and returned to .500.

SHORT HOPS

Lucas Luetge is being used in short relief, but his first eight major league appearances have all had one thing in common – he hasn’t allowed a run. That now covers 5 innings. The last Mariners pitcher to have a run of scoreless appearances at the start of his career was Mark Langston, who went 172/3 scoreless innings in 13 games in 1984. … Ichiro Suzuki’s three-hit game Wednesday was the 225th of his big-league career, tying Ted Williams and Craig Biggio for 33rd place on the all-time three-hit-games list. Good company. … Tom Wilhelmsen’s 13 innings ranks second among American League relievers this season. Only the Yankees’ Davis Phelps (14) has pitched more. … Figgins began the game with seven hits in his last 51 at-bats, then went 3-for-4.

ON TAP

Seattle plays in Toronto at 4:07 p.m. (PDT) today, a game that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Blake Beavan (1-2, 3.26 ERA) vs. Ricky Romero (3-0, 3.29).

larry.larue@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Twitter: @LarryLaRue

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