Mariners shuffle batting order

todd.dybas@thenewstribune.comMay 13, 2013 

SEATTLE —The Seattle Mariners made a lineup shift Sunday that may remain.

Kyle Seager was moved to third in the batting order, something he did a lot the previous season. Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse were each bumped down a spot to fourth and fifth, respectively.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge is trying to find the best spots in the order for Morales and Morse, whom he calls the “key” to the Mariners’ offense. Seager was 1-for-3 Sunday, Morales hit a three-run homer and Morse had two hits, though one was an infield dribbler mishandled by the Athletics.

“I’m playing around with (the lineup) a little bit,” Wedge said. “I still stand by the fact that Morales and Morse are both trying to do too much. They know they’re the guys here. I think that … sometimes (you) put a little too much pressure on yourself to do too much.”

Morse and Morales each said after the game they didn’t care where they hit in the order.

“The last thing that I care about,” Morse said referring to his spot in the lineup.

Wedge said he thinks both Morales (.262) and Morse (.230) are “pressing.” As a result, Wedge thinks both players are swinging at pitches out of the strike zone too often.

Numbers from Fangraphs.com show Morse is swinging at would-be balls slightly above his career average, while Morales is actually below his average.

Morse’s contact percentage is down significantly, however. He has struck out often in his career, but has seen an uptick this season. He’s on pace to strike out 155 times if he has 500 at-bats.

“It’s been frustrating,” Morse said. “I’m trying to see a slider for a strike, so it’s a game of adjustments and it’s still early.”

Wedge said he may stick with this lineup, but also said he was not “locked in” either way. He thinks Seager can hit second, third or fifth in the order.

GUTIERREZ UPDATE

Wedge said outfielder Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring) could start a rehabilitation assignment late next week. He also wants to see Gutierrez play in the field for consecutive days before deciding he’s ready to rejoin the Mariners.

“I’m not looking for him to come back and be just OK to play,” Wedge said. “We’ve done that. It hasn’t worked. When he comes back, he’s got to be ready to go. We’ll let that dictate how long it takes.

“The other way doesn’t work. Hasn’t worked. For three years. He’s going to have to come here and be able to play. I need to see him play every day.”

PRYOR A WAYS OFF

Before his lat muscle injury, reliever Stephen Pryor was thriving in the setup role. In 7 innings, he had struck out seven and not given up a run.

Pryor was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 15 with a tear in his right latissimus dorsi muscle. Wedge said Pryor is still a ways from returning and will be re-evaluated when the club returns from its trip.

ON TAP

The Mariners travel to New York today to start a three-game series with the Yankees on Tuesday, when Seattle’s Felix Hernandez (5-2, 1.53 ERA) will opposed CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.23 ERA).

Todd Dybas todd.dybas@thenewstribune.com @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners

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