Struggling Smoak, Ryan get Sunday off

Struggling Smoak, Ryan get Sunday off

Struggling Smoak, Ryan get Sunday off
TORONTO -- Shortstop Brendan Ryan and first baseman Justin Smoak both got the day off Sunday as Mariners manager Eric Wedge said both needed a "mental day" after struggling at the plate much of the young season.

Rookie Alex Liddi got the start Sunday at first base and hit cleanup for the first time in his career. Munenori Kawasaki started in place of Ryan at shortstop. John Jaso was in the lineup at designated hitter in place of Jesus Montero, who Wedge said just needs occasional days off due to his youth.

Smoak is batting .187 in 19 games with three home runs and nine RBIs and is just 2-for-27 over the past seven games.

"It's still early," Smoak said. "I'm trying to get squared up on both sides of the plate and I feel like I'm bouncing back and forth every other day. It's one of those things where I'm just trying to find that groove, my rhythm and timing, and it'll come. It's just a matter of time."

Ryan has gone 0-for-17 over the past six games, though he has walked four times and his on-base percentage is still at .290 because he leads the Mariners with 11 walks in 53 at-bats.

He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Toronto's Brandon Morrow on Saturday and acknowledged his frustration was rising.

"I'm just putting myself in a position to not have any success," Ryan said. "I had two strikes in every single at-bat. I'm competing every at-bat. I want the challenge every single time. But when I get the pitch I should hit hard, it's back into the net.

"It's incredibly frustrating because now it seems like he makes a good pitch, I foul one off and now it's an 0-2 or 1-2 count or whatever it may be. At this level, you do that over and over and the percentages are not in your favor, let's put it that way."

Wedge said both Ryan and Smoak would be back in the lineup on Monday when the team opens a four-game series in St. Petersburg.

Smoak did rip a deep drive off Morrow in the fourth inning on Saturday, but it was hauled in at the wall by center fielder Colby Rasmus.

"That's just what happens when things aren't going well," said Smoak. "You hit balls hard and they catch 'em. When it's going good, you break bats and they fall in. That's just the way it goes. But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself or anything. We're 20 games in. We play 162."