ST. PETERSBURG -- Shortstop Brendan Ryan, mired in an 0-for-26 slump that has dropped his season average to .125, wasn't in the lineup on Thursday as the Mariners closed out their four-game series against the Rays.
But manager Eric Wedge says Ryan remains a critical part of the team going forward, thanks to his outstanding defense, and that he just needs to get back to the offensive player the team has seen flashes of since his arrival by trade prior to 2011.
"He's a guy we've got to get going," said Wedge. "He's taken away more runs at shortstop than anybody in the game. That's real. You can't get away from that. With what we saw this spring and at times last year, that's real, too, offensively.
"If you can get a guy who can defend himself at home plate and just be even borderline average, you've got a championship-level shortstop, without a doubt."
Wedge continues to say that Ryan is handling himself well, dealing with his difficult stretch, and that he's looking better in batting practice. But he also said the shortstop is a veteran player who shouldn't have as much trouble carrying that over into games.
"He's not 25, he's 30," said Wedge. "He needs to be doing better than what he's been, offensively."
Munenori Kawasaki started at shortstop on Thursday, but he is also hitting around .200 and isn't known for his bat. Wedge said third baseman Kyle Seager, who played some shortstop at the end of last season, is not an option.