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Is it time for Mariners to sit Smoak?

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By Larry LaRue
The News Tribune
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Seattle Mariners have talked about roster changes for weeks now, and on Sunday they were, well, talking about them again.
In Tacoma, first baseman--designated hitter Mike Carp's 20-day rehabilitation assignment ends today, and Mariners manager Eric Wedge was asked if Carp might be activated and play first in place of the slumping Justin Smoak.
"I don't want to speculate on that. I want to take it day-by-day," Wedge said Sunday. "Obviously we've got a lot of moving parts."
Moving parts?
"We optioned Stephen Pryor to Tacoma (Saturday), and I want to see how Franklin Gutierrez's exam goes (today). We have to get Erasmo Ramirez out this week. And Carp is obviously ahead of that."
Smoak is batting .191 this season, and on this seven-day trip went 3-for-29 with 12 strikeouts. Two of those hits were home runs -- he has a team-high 13 -- but his struggles have worsened since the All-Star break.
Gutierrez is still feeling the effects of a concussion suffered more than three weeks ago, and before he's activated from the disabled list will need some playing time in the minor leagues.
Pryor, the high velocity right-handed reliever, will continue to pitch out of the Tacoma bullpen for now, and Ramirez, working his way back from an elbow strain, will join the Rainiers on Wednesday.
Carp's return could come at the expense of outfielder Carlos Peguero, but the team must at least consider Smoak's situation. In nearly a thousand at-bats since being acquired from Texas in 2010, the switch-hitter's batting average is .219.
"He's looked better in BP (batting practice)," Wedge said. "I think it's there, but (he) just hasn't been able to sustain it just yet."
Streak snapped
When right fielder Ichiro Suzuki's throw to third base was wild Saturday, he was charged with an error that snapped a Mariners record 12 consecutive game streak without an error.
It was also the second time in as many games Ichiro had missed a cutoff man, and Wedge wasn't pleased.
"He shouldn't have made the throw (Saturday), there was no play there. It was just an instance of him trying to do too much," Wedge said. "The day before it was a strong throw, an aggressive throw, but he just overthrew Dustin Ackley.
"The first one is a fundamental error. The second one is a mental error. He's got to know. People make mistakes. He's a smart player, he's just to recognize it."
After a poor sacrifice bunt attempt Sunday, Ichiro seemed to find another gear in his game -- stealing second, then third base and scoring Seattle's first run.
In the bottom of the first inning, he made a leaping catch at the wall to rob Carlos Pena of extra bases.
Short hops
Kyle Seager has 58 RBI, the most in the big leagues by any player under the age of 25. ... Ichiro's intentional walk on Saturday was the 172nd of his career, tying him with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most in franchise history. ... Jason Vargas became the American League's seventh pitcher to reach double figures in wins. ... The Mariners began the game Sunday with a July staff earned run average of 3.01 -- second in the AL. Starters had a 3.35 ERA, relievers 2.25. ... Quick scoring: Seattle scored in the first inning in five of the seven games of their trip, totaling 12 runs.
Larry LaRue, The News Tribune
Story tags » Mariners

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