An incredible thing — maybe a magical metamorphosis is a better way to describe it — happened to the Seattle Mariners after just one, full-squad workout in Peoria, AZ.: Their offense, so dismal the past three years, suddenly improved by leaps and bounds. This, anyway, is the view of manager Eric Wedge, who gushed over what he saw.
I dont think you can come out here and watch our position players, whether it be defensively or maybe particularly in the batters box taking BP, and not see a difference,” Wedge enthused. “Were much further along. Were much better. Were going to be a much better offensive ballclub.
We’re not exactly sure how a four-month vacation can cure three years’ worth of batting lameness, and we could suggest that, on the basis of a single workout in which his hitters only took BP, Wedge is being overly optimistic. But maybe the four-month hiatus from baseball did work inexplicable wonders. If so, maybe if we stop writing for four months, well all come back as Shakespeare.
Wedge Tuesday took some drama out of the desert air when he announced the offensive renaissance will include hitting Ichiro third. The move was the object of much off-season speculation. The powers that be apparently convinced Ichiro that this was a better use of his talents.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this winter, of course,” Wedge told reporters. “I’ve talked about it a lot with coaches. I feel like the bottom line is for us to have the best lineup, one through nine, out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel like our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro hitting third for us. It helps the guy in front of him, it helps the guy behind him.”
This comes after announcing Chone Figgins, after hitting .188 last year in 81 games, will replace Ichiro in the leadoff spot. The early leader for the No. 2 spot goes to Dustin Ackley, off his stellar debut last season.
The thinking here is that the Mariners, due to their heavy investment in Figgins, need to give him one more shot to re-capture the stroke that deserted him almost as soon as he inked his $36 million Seattle contract.
Upon his arrival in camp, Ichiro, who hit a career-low .272 in 2011, told reporters that he is open to a move.
Im always prepared for a new challenge, Ichiro said. Thats how we all have to move forward. If that (evacuating the leadoff spot hes held since 2001) is the case, I’m out there to perform as a baseball player and go all out.