Ichiro moves to second in batting order

Ichiro moves to second in batting order

Ichiro moves to second in batting order
OAKLAND -- Looking to spark a struggling offense, Mariners manager Eric Wedge dropped Ichiro Suzuki to second in his batting order for Saturday night's game against the A's and moved second baseman Dustin Ackley up to the leadoff spot.

It's the first time Ichiro has started a game in the No. 2 spot in the order in his 12-year Major League career, though he has pinch-hit and come into games twice in that position. Ichiro started this season batting third for the Mariners, but Wedge moved him back to his familiar leadoff role about a month ago, and he's hit just .237 in that role.

Ackley hit .279 with a .359 on-base percentage in 26 games in the leadoff spot earlier in the year, but has struggled since getting dropped down the last month, and is now hitting .235 with a .315 OBP for the season.

"We're just trying to get those two guys going," said Wedge. "We're trying to get everybody going. Ackley had some success leading off before, so we'll get him back up there. Ichiro in the two-hole is a different look for him and us. We're just trying to exhaust everything as we try to get out of this funk we're in."

Ichiro entered Saturday's game in an 0-for-21 slump, and has hit .237 with a .255 on-base percentage in 31 games in the leadoff role. For the season, he's hitting .258 with a .286 OBP, both career lows.

The normally slump-proof Ichiro has had two of his longest hitless streaks in the last five weeks. In his dozen years with the Mariners, he's only had three stretches of 20-plus at-bats without a hit, and two of those have come since June 2.

Wedge doesn't expect a dramatic change in approach from the veteran from Japan, but figures a different look can't hurt.

"Ichiro does what Ichiro does," Wedge said. "But I'm hoping the different look and Ackley ahead of him, and maybe there'll be more situational things that will help him, too."

Ackley has hit .128 in his last 15 games, and is presumably among the young veterans Wedge said could be sent down to Triple-A Tacoma when the team reevaluates its situation over the upcoming All-Star break. But Wedge wants to see what he does when back in the leadoff role.

"I liked him up there," Wedge said. "He hasn't done anything to deserve to be up there right now, but I'm just trying to think outside the box and get him back up there and hopefully get him going a little bit."

As for impending changes? Wedge sounded again Saturday like he's at the end of his rope on waiting for some of the youngsters to produce.

"The bottom line, everybody has to do their job," he said. "Everybody is up here getting paid good money to produce and help us win ballgames, and that's just not happening."