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Wedge evaluating leadoff options

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- With Franklin Gutierrez and Kyle Seager getting the day off Tuesday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge went a different direction with his lineup and had right fielder Jason Bay leading off in a 5-4 loss to the D-backs.

Bay traditionally has been more of a middle-of-the-order hitter, but he came into the game with a .500 on-base percentage this spring and Wedge put him up top, with last year's leadoff hitter Dustin Ackley batting second.

Too much shouldn't be read into Cactus League games when regulars are only playing every other day and split squads sometimes water down lineups even further. But Gutierrez has led off seven games this spring, Ackley five, Seager three and Michael Saunders, Robert Andino and now Bay once each.

"I'm looking at a lot of people up top," Wedge said. "I'm not sure where Ack's going to hit, to be honest with you. I've messed around with a lot of different lineups and we don't really need to lock anything in right now. We're giving a lot of different hitters different spots in the lineup to see how it plays out.

"We want to be a one-through-nine team this year. It'll probably be the first time we've really been able to do that since I've been here because of the way the younger hitters have come along and the addition of the veterans, too. We should have a lot more balance in our lineup and be able to sprinkle the veterans around and hopefully protect those younger kids and let them have something to work off of."

Bay went 0-for-3 on Tuesday and Ackley was 1-for-4 in the second spot, with both now batting .333 this spring. Why Bay at the top of the order on this day?

"He sees the ball, puts up a professional at-bat, hits the ball to all fields," said Wedge. "There's a lot to like there. Obviously, we've seen him drive the ball the other way and we've seen him turn pitches around, too. He sees tough pitches and gets on base. We don't have a prototypical leadoff hitter really on our team, but we have some guys we feel can do a good job with it."

Bay has never led off in a regular-season game in his 10-year Major League career. Of his 1,169 career starts, 1,139 have come with him batting either third, fourth, fifth or sixth in the order.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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