Get out of Ichiro’s way

  • Kirby Arnold / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, February 25, 2004 9:00pm
  • Sports

PEORIA, Ariz. – Bob Melvin is talking again about changes to the Seattle Mariners’ batting order.

Wednesday, however, he wasn’t floating the idea of moving Ichrio Suzuki out of the leadoff spot. It’s the bottom of the order that he will tinker with.

“I’d like to have somebody a little faster in the nine hole than the catcher,” Melvin said.

Dan Wilson and Ben Davis, two of the slower runners in the lineup who shared the catching duties and hit in the ninth spot much of last year, tended to be road blocks when Suzuki came to bat, Melvin said.

“We’ve run some numbers about who’s on first base between the eight and nine hitter, and the nine hitter is there quite a bit more than the eight hitter,” Melvin said. “Ichiro hits the ball on the ground a lot, and you’d like to have somebody a little swifter (on base) than the catcher.”

The only clear possibility for the ninth spot is Randy Winn, and Melvin said he’ll put together a few lineups with Winn hitting in that place when exhibition games begin.

Melvin had talked over the winter about moving Suzuki down in the order in spring training, but he now says that plan isn’t likely to happen.

“If we had another obvious guy to be a leadoff guy, then maybe it would be easier to do,” Melvin said. “He is the prototypical leadoff guy. The only thing he doesn’t do is walk as much as other leadoff guys.”

Suzuki said that whatever Melvin wants, he’ll oblige.

“If Bob feels strongly about me hitting third, I’ll do it,” he said.

That probably won’t be necessary.

“We’ll look at some different lineups,” Melvin said. “But I still think Ichiro’s best spot is leadoff.”

Borders crossing: Catcher Pat Borders arrived at spring training looking like he’d never left a ball diamond since the end of last season, which, essentially, is the case.

Winter league, Borders style, consisted of playing softball on his church team.

“I don’t think I took more than a day off the whole time,” he said.

It was no ordinary church team, and not just because Borders is a former World Series MVP.

“We had a good team. A couple of the kids on it had been drafted,” Borders said. “And then there’s my dad.”

Mike Borders plays third base with a flair that masks the fact he’s 61.

“He’s as good as the kids,” Pat Borders said. “People think he’s my brother.”

Get your giveaways: The Mariners announced their promotions for 2004, and they include some unique gifts and events. Fans will get the “Ichiro choo-choo” on May 4 and Edgar Martinez nesting dolls June 29. May 6 is Wheel of Fortune Night with an appearance by Vanna White.

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