Ichiro used at DH for first time this season

Ichiro used at DH for first time this season

Ichiro used at DH for first time this season
SEATTLE -- Manager Eric Wedge continued looking for ways to reduce the workload on Ichiro Suzuki by putting him at designated hitter on Tuesday for the first time this season.

Ichiro, 38, had a six-game hitting streak going into Tuesday's game against the A's and was 12-for-26 (.461) since getting a full day off on June 18 in Arizona.

Wedge continues to say that increased rest could help the veteran right fielder, who has raised his average 18 points to .273 in that span.

Casper Wells got the start in right field Tuesday. Wells has hit .407 (11-for-27) with six RBIs in nine games since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.

"We're trying to get Casper in there a little more, especially against left-handers," Wedge said. "So it's a chance to get Ichi off his feet and let him still swing the bat.

"It helps a little bit," Wedge said. "It's not the same as an off-day, but it does help him physically a little bit. A true off-day is more about the mental side than anything, but this does help him physically."

Wells has a strong throwing arm and is an excellent defensive outfielder, with some projecting right field as his best position. But Wedge said it's not critical to see him in that spot.

"I think he's going to be a good outfielder wherever he is," Wedge said. "I don't think it's important for him to necessarily play right field, but it's important to get a look at him and see him play a little more. It doesn't really matter to me where it is."

With Michael Saunders playing well and Franklin Gutierrez getting healthy, Wedge suddenly is seeking ways to get four outfielders playing time. Putting Ichiro at DH is one way to keep Wells in the lineup. It will be the 38th game at designated hitter in Ichiro's 12-year career, while the rest of his 1,822 games have all come in right or center field.