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Almonte gets a mental break

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SEATTLE -- For the first time in 2014, center fielder Abraham Almonte wasn't in the Mariners' starting lineup Sunday.

"I'm just trying to give Almonte a little time off -- two days off to clear his mind a little bit. This stuff can be overwhelming sometimes," manager Lloyd McClendon said before the series finale against Texas. "I know what he's going through. We still believe in the young man. We want him to flourish but I don't want it to overwhelm him."

Almonte leads the American League with 36 strikeouts, tied with Pittsburgh's Starling Marte for the Major League lead. Almonte went 0-for-5 and fanned three times in Saturday's 6-3 loss to the Rangers and is 3-for-29 in his last seven games, dropping his batting average to .204.

How has his first month of the season gone?

"Not good," McClendon said. "But he's in a boat with a lot of other guys. I know because he's in a leadoff spot and because he leads off the first at-bat of the game everybody wants to make a big deal about Almonte.

"We got a lot of guys not hitting. We got guys that should be hitting and have had time in the big leagues that aren't hitting," McClendon said. "I don't want to put everything on this guy's shoulders and say our offensive woes are about Almonte. That's just not the case."

The Mariners entered Sunday five games below .500 at 9-14 and near the bottom of the AL in most major offensive statistical categories, including batting average, on-base percentage and runs. Facing left-handed pitcher Matt Harrison, McClendon moved right-hander Stefen Romero to the No. 2 spot in the order and gave struggling shortstop Brad Miller and left fielder Dustin Ackley the day off.

For the second consecutive game, outfielder Michael Saunders was hitting leadoff, though Sunday marked his first start of the year in center.

McClendon said he wanted to give Miller and Almonte an extra day to recoup before Seattle embarks on a 10-game road trip that takes them to New York, Houston and Oakland.

"They're just not getting positive results. Yogi Berra says this game is 90 percent mental and the other 50 percent is physical. He's absolutely right," McClendon said. "This is a results-oriented game. We can talk about all the stats and you can put a spin on stats… all of it, all of it's [crap]. It's all about winning the game. If you win the game, everything's fine."

Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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