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Mariners use Ichiro as designated hitter

Mariners use Ichiro as designated hitter

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ARLINGTON -- The Mariners played their first game of the season without Ichiro Suzuki in right field on Thursday night, but he was in the lineup as the designated hitter.

"He wants to play every day, but the last couple of weeks we have talked about when we were going to [use him in the DH role], if we could do it, and we need to do it right now to rest his legs," manager Don Wakamatsu said.

The Rangers have handled Ichiro unusually well in this series, limiting him to one hit in 11 at-bats in the first three games of the four-game set.

"I ask him constantly [if he needs a breather], but he would never tell me he needed a day off," Wakamatsu said. "But with the long games, the heat and everything else, now is the time to do it."

Thursday night was the 26th time in his 1,486-game career with the Mariners that Ichiro was used as the DH. He entered the game with a .387 average in that role, going 41-for-106 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Ryan Langerhans got his first start in right field and was placed in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Milton Bradley, the No. 2 hitter in the first three games of the series, got the night off.

"We could have moved Josh [Wilson] up there," Wakamatsu said. "Josh is swinging the bat more like [someone in] the cleanup spot. And Ryan is a patient hitter who can do some things in the two-hole -- bunt and get on base."

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