BY John Hickey 02:38PM 04/10/2011

Wedge scrambles Mariners’ lineup, then hopes

New looks in infield, outfield and behind the plate shake things up for Seattle.

Michael Saunders - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 2

Michael Saunders got his first start in left Sunday and made a nice diving catch. / Ben Van Houten / Mariners

Sunday’s Seattle lineup was like none of the eight that had preceded it.

Adam Kennedy was at second base, batting third. Luis Rodriguez was at shortstop, batting seventh. Backup outfielders Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders were in center and left, respectively. Chris Gimenez was catching for the first time in his Mariner career.

Part of the new look, manager Eric Wedge said, was to get players who haven’t been in there much a chance to play.

Beyond that, however, there’s the not-insignificant problem that the Mariners’ regular lineup is doing nothing. Coming into the final game of the Cleveland series, Seattle was 11th in the 14-team American League in batting average (.220), tied for last in home runs (two) and 11th in runs scored (25).

“It’s a good day to mix it up,’’ Wedge said, putting as positive a spin as he could on an offense that is almost unspinnable.

His club is averaging just .197 with men in scoring position in the eight games, and in a six-game losing streak the Mariners are 9-for-51, a .176 average.

“You have to stay confident in those situations,’’ Wedge said. “You have to be confident that the things you worked on in spring training will stay with you.

“You have to be strong mentally to play this game. You’ve got to be tough. And you can’t get caught up in the numbers.’’

The new lineup had one early payoff. The game’s first batter, Cleveland center fielder Michael Brantley, hit a sinking liner to left that the 6-foot-4 Saunders caught with a nice diving catch.

THE HEAT IS ON: If you were in the Seattle clubhouse Sunday morning – and we’ll assume that since you’re reading this you probably weren’t – you saw Seattle Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez wearing not a Mariner jersey but “Le Heat 3.’’

It is the Hispanic version of Dwyane Wade’s home jersey with the Miami Heat. Hernandez may live in Seattle, but he is a big Heat fan, and Wade is his man.

“D-Wade is my favorite player,’’ Hernandez said. “Not Lebron (James), not Chris Bosh.’’

Hernandez has never met Wade, but he had a special reason for wearing his Heat jersey Sunday. The Heat and the Boston Celtics were playing Sunday.

“I did it for Rocket (Mariner condition guru Allen Wirtala),’’ Hernandez said. “The Heat’s playing the Celtics tonight, and the Celtics are his team, and this (the Heat jersey) bugs him.’’

NOTES: Wedge seems to be trying to push past the stink surrounding second baseman Jack Wilson’s having taken himself out of Wednesday’s game in Texas. At the time, Wedge said the decision was “unspeakable’’ on Wilson’s part. And while Wilson still had not made it back into the lineup as of Sunday, Wedge said “Jack’s our second baseman.’’ … Kennedy was at second base again instead of Wilson, and Kennedy had a chance to finish off the top of the first by turning a double play. But Kennedy couldn’t get the ball out of his glove after making the catch for the first out, and that extended the inning long enough for Cleveland to tack on a second run.

Twitter: @JHickey3


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