Slumping Ichiro Suzuki out of lineup
Schoenfield: M's Bench Ichiro
Ichiro Suzuki, 37, will not be in the Mariners' starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 31, 2009. David Schoenfield wonders, is this the beginning of the end for Ichiro? Has he finally lost a step? Has the artistry gone awry? Blog
Manager Eric Wedge said he wanted to give his slumping outfielder the night off, although he didn't rule out the possibility Suzuki could pinch hit or pinch run. Suzuki has played in 255 consecutive games, the third-longest streak in team history.
"If you look at what he's accomplished the last 10 years and the consistency he's had in regard to playing, he's earned the benefit of the doubt. He's earned the right to go out there and play a little bit longer than maybe some of the other guys," Wedge said. "So that's something that I have a great deal of respect for, but ultimately I'm the manager."
Wedge said he talked to Suzuki after Thursday night's game, so the 37-year-old would know what to expect Friday. Suzuki didn't talk to reporters before Friday's game.
"He's been playing baseball for a long time," Wedge said. "He's mentally tough, he's physically tough. He has so many different things that are reasons for the fact that he has been so successful, but ultimately, he's a human being, and everybody needs a break every now and again."
Suzuki is in his 11th major league season and has never hit under .300. He's hitting .252 in 2011 with a .294 slugging percentage.
Suzuki is hitting .149 since May 19.
"He's a strong man, and he'll get through this, and he's going to help us win a lot of ballgames in the future," Wedge said.
With Suzuki out, the Mariners put Chone Figgins, another slumping hitter, in the leadoff spot. Figgins entered the game hitting .187.
"He had his greatest success in the leadoff spot," Wedge said. "It's a great opportunity to maybe throw him back up there and maybe get him kick-started. I've seen it happen before."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press