By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Before the All-Star break, Mariners manager Eric Wedge called out his ball club, threatening to send some of his younger players down if they didn’t start producing offensively.
After the All-Star break, Wedge appears willing to give them one more chance.
“We didn’t want to make a change just to make a change,” Wedge said. “We didn’t feel like we were going to get better if we made a change. So if you are going to make a change it ultimately has to be for that individual or individuals that you make a change for.
“The only reason to do that is that you feel like if you do that it’s going to allow that player to ultimately be the big-league player that you think he is going to be that much quicker. That’s what we are striving to do is to get these guys to be the big-leaguers that we think they are capable of being as quickly as possible.”
Wedge said that possibility of sending some of the younger talent down still exists, but now isn’t the time.
“If you feel like it’s going to help them get there that much quicker by sending them out, knowing that at some point in time you have to bring them back up and they have to go through it anyway then you do that,” Wedge said. “At some point in time maybe we have to do that, but right now we’ve seen a little bit here and a little bit there with certain individuals we felt like it was important that they will have the break and take that break and reflect, learn from everything you’ve gone through in the first half and let’s see how we respond here in the second half.”
For now, Wedge hopes to see his team take a more relaxed approach with the bat.
“I feel like they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves individually and collectively, which comes with the territory,” Wedge said. “You just have to do everything that you need to do and practice the way you are supposed to practice, which they do, and then trust that it is going to flow into the game — especially on the offensive side of things. And you know, not to continue to put that kind of pressure on yourself.
“You have to relax and play. They are all here for a reason. They’ve had a lot of success to be here and some of them have had some success here. You just have to go out and play baseball.”
So how much time does Wedge give his younger players?
“I’m not going to give a time table, but I’ve got an idea — depending on the individual,” Wedge said. “I think everybody, like I’ve said so many times before, they’re their own story.”
Guti cleared for activity
Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez was cleared to resume physical activity on Friday after suffering a concussion when he was hit in the side of the face during a pick-off attempt at first base June 28.
The Mariners wasted little time working out Gutierrez.
“He did a few things today just from an exercise standpoint,” Wedge said. “He felt really good afterward, so we will see how he wakes up tomorrow and hopefully we can up his work tomorrow.”
Relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen had a scoreless streak of 21 innings going into Friday night’s game. Wilhelmsen’s streak is the fourth longest in the American League and the fifth longest in Mariners history … Close games have been a thorn in the side of Mariners in the first half of the 2012 season. Seattle has held a lead in 23 of its 51 losses, leading the American League. And though the Mariners have played 44 games decided by two runs or less, they are just 17-27 in those games … The Mariners finished the first half with a .989 fielding percentage, the best in the majors. They have not committed an error in 59 of their 87 games and have just seven multi-error games this season.