SEATTLE -- One game shy of the halfway point in the season, the Mariners fielded a lineup on Friday night against the Cubs that included just three players who started on Opening Day, a testament to the transition underway, as well as some injuries that have hit the club.
Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse are on the disabled list, while Michael Saunders, Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak were on the bench. Jesus Montero was sent to the Minors and is now on the disabled list, as well.
The only starters from Opening Day were Kyle Seager, Kendrys Morales and Dustin Ackley, with Ackley making his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
The changes are pretty simple in manager Eric Wedge's mind.
"You want to play more, do better," Wedge said. "I'm a very patient man. I always have been a patient baseball person. But there's a point in time where you have to give others an opportunity, there's always somebody coming. And whether there are young players in the lineup today or not, doesn't mean that he is or isn't going to be a part of this thing. There's only so many spots to play, we're going to handle this as best we feel."
Ryan lost his starting shortstop role Friday with Brad Miller's promotion and Saunders could lose playing time if Ackley plays well in center field. Saunders is hitting just .211, but can play all three outfield spots.
"He's got to do better than what he's doing," Wedge said of Saunders. "I think he's been a little better the past couple days, but it's been inconsistent. He's scratched the surface of what we feel like he's capable of doing, starting last year and early this year. He's been in a funk for a while, so hopefully he can get it back."
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com . This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.