Mariners use Ichiro as designated hitter
Leadoff man not in right field for the first time this season
ARLINGTON -- The Mariners played their first game of the season without Ichiro Suzuki in right field on Thursday night, but he was in the lineup as the designated hitter.
"He wants to play every day, but the last couple of weeks we have talked about when we were going to [use him in the DH role], if we could do it, and we need to do it right now to rest his legs," manager Don Wakamatsu said.
The Rangers have handled Ichiro unusually well in this series, limiting him to one hit in 11 at-bats in the first three games of the four-game set.
"I ask him constantly [if he needs a breather], but he would never tell me he needed a day off," Wakamatsu said. "But with the long games, the heat and everything else, now is the time to do it."
Thursday night was the 26th time in his 1,486-game career with the Mariners that Ichiro was used as the DH. He entered the game with a .387 average in that role, going 41-for-106 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
Ryan Langerhans got his first start in right field and was placed in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. Milton Bradley, the No. 2 hitter in the first three games of the series, got the night off.
"We could have moved Josh [Wilson] up there," Wakamatsu said. "Josh is swinging the bat more like [someone in] the cleanup spot. And Ryan is a patient hitter who can do some things in the two-hole -- bunt and get on base."
Mariners to make decision on Snell
ARLINGTON -- Right-hander Ian Snell was still in the Mariners' starting rotation as of Thursday night, but that could change on Friday.
That's when manager Don Wakamatsu is expected to make a decision on whether to replace Snell in the rotation for the second time this season.
Wakamatsu said several factors are being considered, including who would replace Snell, and how the replacement matches up to the next opponent compared to the confidence-challenged right-hander that is 0-5 with a 5.89 ERA this season.
Snell's latest loss occurred on Wednesday night when the Rangers knocked him out in the second inning.
That spot in the rotation comes up again Monday night in St. Louis in the opener of a three-game series.
Snell has made 14 career starts and one relief appearance against the Cardinals, posting a 4-5 record and 5.35 ERA. He has surrendered 14 home runs to the Cards, who are batting .290 against him.
Left-hander Luke French, the most likely replacement for Snell in the rotation, has never faced the National League club.
Coaching-duty changes coming Friday
ARLINGTON -- More coaching-duty changes are coming for the Mariners.
When a three-game series against the Padres begins on Friday night in San Diego, Lee Tinsley will coach third base, Minor League infield and baserunning coordinator Darrin Garner will be at first base and Mike Brumley will serve as Don Wakamatsu's bench coach.
Tinsley and Brumley switched coaching positions last week to give the team a different look, and Garner subbed for Brumley on Sunday at Safeco Field so Brumley could attend the high school graduation of his daughter in the Dallas area.
The latest changes also are graduation-related.
Current bench coach Ty Van Burkleo's son, Cameron, is graduating from Grass Valley (Calif.) High School on Friday night.
"He's the class valedictorian," Van Burkleo said. "He got his brains from his mom."
Cameron has been accepted to the University of Washington and hopes to pursue a career in business management, preferably in baseball in a front-office position or scouting.
"He loves baseball and would like to be involved in some way," Van Burkleo said.
Shortstop Jack Wilson (hamstring) played seven innings for Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, will probably get Friday off and then play nine innings on Saturday. He is currently on a rehab assignment and is already eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. ... Catcher Adam Moore (sublexed left fibula) started his rehab assignment on Thursday night with Tacoma. ... Catcher Josh Bard (strained left calf) is catching bullpens in the Minors and will run this weekend. ... Designated hitter Mike Sweeney (lower back inflammation) is feeling better and is, according to what he told manager Don Wakamatsu, about 90 percent. ... Left-hander Erik Bedard, meanwhile, who had a 50-pitch bullpen session on Thursday, said he "felt great" and is slated to have a 30-pitch simulated game Tuesday in St. Louis. ... Rick Griffin, the head athletic trainer, has been selected as one of the trainers for the All-Star Game in Anaheim next month. It's his fourth Midsummer Classic.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.