By Todd Dybas The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Just a single, dismal at-bat gives Brendan Ryan enough to chew on mentally after a game.
Losing his starting position really feeds the beast.
The promotion of shortstop Brad Miller has put Ryan and his world-class defense on the bench. The problem for Ryan is simple: He hasn’t been able to hit.
Ryan is hitting .196 after hitting .194 last season. He will be used as a utility infielder going forward.
“I haven’t got the job done and this is this result of me not playing well enough,” Ryan said. “I don’t think I should be happy about it. I’m not happy about it, but I dug my own grave. I think everyone knows I’m capable of a lot more than this.”
Ryan then quickly moved into his thoughts on Miller, who took his spot.
“There are always people on your heels,” Ryan said. “I’m personally a fan of Brad Miller’s, I like the guy a lot. He’s an easy guy to like and root for. He’s earned the right to come up and get an opportunity. I’m going to do everything I can to help.
“That certainly doesn’t mean I’m not going to be ready for my next opportunity. Whatever comes my way, I’m going to be ready for it. I don’t think I’d be a competitor if I was just happy with the situation I made for myself.”
That situation is a direct result of a plummeting average during June. Ryan had himself straightened out in May, when he hit .274. Considering his Gold Glove-level defense, an average that high would be plenty to keep him in the lineup.
Ryan hit .149 in April. June has also been abysmal, where Ryan has hit just .162. That finally pushed the Mariners into a change.
Another move may also be in Ryan’s future. The non-waiver trade deadline is July 31. Asked if his benching makes him wonder if he will be traded or brought back — he’s a free agent at the end of the season — Ryan immediately said “absolutely.”
Ryan watched from the dugout Friday after his demotion. It was an odd day for him. He was pleased with the win, though he wasn’t at shortstop for it.
“Personally, I’m not where I want to be (offensively),” Ryan said. “You’re only going to have so much fun when you’re seeing someone else where you want to be. In no way am I bitter or anything. If I’m upset with anyone, I’m upset with myself. That should be understood.”
Ryan is upset to such a degree, that it’s sticking with him even when he leaves the ballpark. That’s not unusual for Ryan, who is extremely hard on himself.
“Honestly, I never stop thinking about stuff,” Ryan said. “I kind of sit at home sick to my stomach all night. Wait, wonder and worry. I have to keep reminding myself is all I can do is be ready for the next opportunity.”
Ryan was inserted back into the lineup Saturday and was 1-for-2 with a bloop double before being pinch-hit for by Nick Franklin in the seventh inning.
“I didn’t expect to be in there (Saturday) but here we are,” Ryan Said. “It’s another chance. Bottom line is you just want to win. You want to win and you want to play well.”
Michael Saunders was hit Friday night when Cubs catcher Welington Castillo threw to third for a pick-off attempt during an intentional walk in the 10th. It was a crafty move by Castillo that almost worked. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Saunders is day-to-day, but the damage to the middle finger of his right hand only made him available to pinch-run Saturday.