On the first full day of the rest of the Mariners lives’ without Ichiro, they replaced two of their most unproductive bats by bringing up a couple of young guys for more chances to be productive.
As Ichiro received another standing ovation for his first at-bat in Tuesday night’s game with his new team, the Yankees, his old spot in right field again was occupied by slugger Carlos Peguero. In front of Peguero at first base was Mike Carp, a former left fielder who is now the regular first baseman, replacing Justin Smoak.
About seven hours after the Ichiro trade rocked the baseball world, Smoak, batting .189, was much more quietly sent to Tacoma. Smoak, the key player in the 2010 Cliff Lee trade, had the worst batting average among American League regulars. But he is being replaced by someone who hit .157 in 32 games earlier this season before going on the disabled list with an inflamed shoulder first injured in the season opener in the Tokyo Dome.
During his rehab in Tacoma, Carp, 25, hit .220 with five doubles, one home run and eight RBI in 15 games.
“Carp has been hitting better than his numbers,” Wedge said before the game. “He’ll be our primary first baseman, and (second baseman) Dustin Ackley will go there from time to time.”
Wedge said that catchers Jesus Montero and John Jaso will also continue pre-game work at first base. When asked whether Montero is going to see time at first or wait to make a transition next spring, Wedge was non-committal.
“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “I’m not sure. He’s hitting ball better right now.”
Also brought up was Trayvon Robinson, 24, who is expected to back up all outfield positions. He wasn’t in the game early Tuesday. In 44 games with Seattle in 2011, Robinson hit .210 with two home runs and 14 RBIs. Starting this year in Tacoma, he hit .265 in 83 games with nine home runs, 41 RBIs and a .740 OBP.
Meanwhile, onetime starting centerfielder Franklin Gutierrez underwent tests Monday and Tuesday and was scheduled for more Wednesday, Wedge said. He is still having concussion-related problems after he was struck by a pickoff throw at first base June 28.
“It’s an uncertain pattern of injury,” he said. “They’re making sure nothing else is going on.”
Regarding the everyday lineup without regulars Ichiro and Smoak, Wedge said too much is made of a stable order.
“You look around baseball, and those days are gone,” he said. “When you have a young team — we don’t have a leadoff hitter, a three-hole hitter, a four-hole hitter — we’re a ways away from a consistent lineup. Nobody’s smart enough to know what these young players are going to do.”
Meanwhile, Ichiro in his first three at-bats Tuesday with a Safeco crowd of 31,908 looking on, again batting No. 8, popped out, sent a grounder under Carp’s glove for a double and was hit on the right foot by a Felix Hernandez pitch. His teammates failed to bring him around to score.