ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was something different about the Seattle Mariners’ lineup on Friday night at Angels Stadium.
More specifically, someone was missing.
Kyle Seager’s name was not written in at third base for the first time in 106 straight games. It snapped the longest consecutive-games-started streak by a Mariners player.
“I only had like 2,100 left to catch Cal Ripken,” Seager joked.
He actually had more than 2,500 left to catch the Orioles’ Hall of Fame shortstop, who started 2,632 games.
But does Seager even remember when his last day off came?
“Not really,” he said. “I think it was against Houston when (Erik) Bedard was pitching.”
Um, no, Kyle, your last day off was in Anaheim on May 22. Coupled with another on May 23, he’s had two days off the entire season.
Manager Eric Wedge pulled Seager aside early Friday afternoon to tell him he’d be getting a break.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I kind of hinted at it with you (media) guys the other day,” Wedge said. “It was either going to be today or Sunday. I figured today after a travel day is a good thing, plus we’ve got Felix (Hernandez) pitching Sunday so you want to have a regular crew in there when he’s in there.”
Seager understood, but it’s clear he wanted to play.
“He doesn’t have to tell me anything if he doesn’t want to,” Seager said. “He just told me his thoughts behind everything, and get a breather and finish out the rest of the season off.”
Wedge was so focused on the idea of giving Seager a day off that he put his name down twice among the reserves.
“Ask Daren Brown, he said I was doing it subconsciously,” Wedge said.
So what will Seager do with his day off?
“Well, I will probably take it a little easier today, just do some light cage stuff and get the work in I need to be ready for the game and not as much extra stuff,” Seager said.
Game preparation? On an off day? Not in Seager’s mind. He’s fully anticipating a chance to pinch hit or play late-inning defense.
“Sometimes it can be just as stressful mentally on the bench because you have to think about the situations. Am I going to pinch hit here? Or am I going in for defense here?” he said. “You’re in the game just as much if not more.”
Wedge isn’t surprised about Seager’s thinking.
“I don’t think he ever totally turns it all the way off,” Wedge said. “But what I think he does do is downshift a little bit from maybe fifth gear to second or third gear.”
The timing of the breather seems a little odd because Seager went 2-for-4 Thursday against the Tigers. Previously, though, a mini-slump may have prompted the move. He is 4-for-44 over his last 12 games for a 0.91 batting average.
MILLER ON THE MEND
Brad Miller, who is recovering from a strained hamstring suffered a week ago, ran sprints in the outfield and participated in a full batting practice and fielding regimen before the game. It’s a sign he’s close to returning.
“I’d play tonight if I could, but they want me to wait,” Miller said before Friday’s game. “I’m hoping for Sunday.”
It seems like a possibility because Wedge is hoping for Sunday or possibly Monday
“He had a really good day today,” Wedge said. “He’s still not there yet, but he’s close.”
The Mariners’ starting rotation for the final homestand is still undecided. Brandon Maurer will start the first game, on Monday against the Royals, but after that there is some uncertainty.
After saying Hisashi Iwakuma would make one more start this season following his win on Wednesday, Wedge wasn’t quite as definitive on Friday. Iwakuma has thrown 2112/3 innings this season. The Mariners’ original plan was not to let him exceed 210 innings. But Wedge felt Iwakuma looked strong against Detroit and could possibly make another start. Another reason for the hesitancy is the club needs to gauge how Hernandez feels after making his start Sunday.
The Mariners have enough starting pitching to complete the season. But having their two best throw in the final homestand would be something to look forward to in an otherwise dismal end of the season.
Left-hander Joe Saunders (11-15, 5.16 ERA) will get the start for Mariners, while right-hander Jerome Williams (8-10, 4.65) will go for the Angels. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish