Ryan up for challenge of hitting second in lineup

Ryan up for challenge of hitting second in lineup

SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge rolled out the same lineup for a second straight day Sunday, which meant another shot for shortstop Brendan Ryan in the No. 2 spot despite his less-than-sterling .145 batting average.

With Dustin Ackley leading off and Ichiro Suzuki hitting third, Wedge wants a right-hander to break up the top of the lineup and feels Ryan fits well in that spot as a situational hitter. He came through with a sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly in Saturday's 7-0 win over the Twins, but knows it'll take repeated success to stay in that position.

Ryan said he appreciates the vote of confidence from his skipper.

"No question. He certainly didn't have to do that," Ryan said. "He's maybe trying to jump-start me a little, too, obviously being in an incredibly slow start. But I'm not going to hit a buck-whatever all year. Right around this time things started to turn around last year, so hopefully that's the case."

As for the challenge of hitting second?

"I love it. I got to do that a little bit in St. Louis and it's fun," Ryan said. "There are a lot of different opportunities in that position. When it comes late in the game, then the sac bunting or hit and run, all that stuff is in. It's just fun being in those situations."

Wedge said he's seeing a more mature Ryan this season in the way he's handled his difficult start.

"I think he's turned the corner in that respect," Wedge said. "He's so passionate and it means so much to him, it's not easy for him to maintain an even keel. And I'm a big believer in that because you have to have that. But if he can get to that point and stay where he's at right now, it's going to benefit him.

"That and I like what I'm seeing fundamentally from him in the cage, during BP and whatnot," Wedge said. "And situationally, when he does get confident and gets to the point he needs to be, he's a pretty good two-hole hitter. We saw that last year."

Ryan feels he's finding some answers at the plate, realizing that his swing got too long as he started pulling the ball to left field with some success during the spring.

"I got a little greedy and didn't get back to the roots or whatever, staying with who you are," he said. "My swing got bigger. There's some other guys that could hit there [in the No. 2 spot], but it worked out a little last year and we had some Spring Training games with this type of lineup and it worked pretty well. So we'll see. If it works, I'm sure we'll be seeing more of it."