Wells honors mom's request, belts home run
Mariners outfielder delivers special Mother's Day gift in Bronx
NEW YORK -- Mariners left fielder Casper Wells got a Mother's Day request from his mom on Sunday morning. Nothing big, just if he could provide a little something special to remember when she and the rest of the family drove the two hours from Schenectady in upstate New York to see him play at Yankee Stadium.
"She said, 'Hit a home run for me,'" said a grinning Wells after his team's 6-2 victory. "Like that's an easy thing to do. I was thinking, 'That's kind of a big request. How about a single or a couple knocks?'"
But Wells indeed delivered the long ball, driving a sixth-inning pitch by Andy Pettitte high off the right-field foul pole for a two-run shot that provided his team a 4-1 lead. It was his first home run of the year.
And for good measure, Wells drove in another run in the ninth with an infield single, with the day's final run scoring as well on a throwing error by Yankees reliever Clay Rapada.
Wells, like most of the Mariners, wore pink wristbands throughout the game as part of Major League Baseball's breast-cancer awareness program.
Three Mariners hitters -- Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero -- used pink bats. Montero and reliever Charlie Furbush, who got a critical strikeout of Mark Teixeira with the bases loaded in the eighth, sported pink shoes.
Smoak's bat came through on a 2-for-4 day that included a two-run home run off Pettitte.
"Maybe I'll use that bat again tomorrow," Smoak said with a laugh.
But none of the Mariners were able to deliver quite as much of a personal Mother's Day present as Wells, who gave a quick wave to his mom in the stands after crossing home plate.
"I got a bag for her last year," said Wells. "This year, I got her a home run at Yankee Stadium."
Wedge: Ichiro could be moved from No. 3 spot
NEW YORK -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge noted Sunday that the veteran position players he'd been counting on have not been producing this season and the weight is shifting even more to young players to carry the offensive load. He also spoke for the first time about possibly moving Ichiro Suzuki out of the No. 3 spot in the order.
With Chone Figgins and Brendan Ryan both struggling and Franklin Gutierrez and Miguel Olivo on the disabled list, Wedge is left with little choice but to build on a young core of players.
The one veteran in the middle of the lineup is Ichiro, but Wedge noted "he's not a prototypical three-hole hitter" and hinted that Ichiro's role could change when and if some of the younger players show they're ready to handle that challenge.
"We don't have any veteran guys doing anything right now," Wedge said. "It's as simple as that. So I can't say it any plainer. We've got six to seven guys we're starting today that are 25 or younger. The young guys are going to have to do it, because the veteran guys aren't getting it done. There's just no way of getting around it.
"You look at all the other Major League teams, and they've got at least one guy, if not two or three, that they can count on as veteran guys who are experienced big league hitters. So our young guys are going to have to step up and do it. I have no problem saying that. And I believe they can. But it's just harder without having that guy, or a couple guys ideally at this level."
As for Ichiro? The 38-year-old is hitting .288 and ranks third on the team with 13 RBIs. His .388 slugging percentage is up from last year's .335, but not anywhere near what is expected from a No. 3 batter in a typical lineup.
"He's not a guy that's going to be doing a lot of damage," Wedge said. "He's going to get his hits, and hopefully he gets his hits at the right time. Where he ultimately ends up, we'll see. But right now, that's where he is, and we have to work to get these young hitters going who profile better for different areas of our lineup. But they've got to get themselves going and be more consistent."
Wedge left the door open to move both leadoff hitter Dustin Ackley and Ichiro at some point this season.
"I don't know where either one of them will end up," Wedge said. "It depends on what the supporting cast does, because I feel like all of them have a lot more upside. They're just so young. Whether Ackley ends up 1-2-3, whether Ichiro ends up 1-2-3 or somewhere else, we'll see. It just depends on what we see production-wise.
"Ichiro is by no means your prototypical three-hole hitter, but that's where we need him right now. And when it comes to the point in time where we feel we need him somewhere else, that's when we'll do that."
Ryan back at shortstop for Mariners
NEW YORK -- After sitting out Saturday, shortstop Brendan Ryan was back in the Mariners' lineup Sunday for their series finale against the Yankees. But manager Eric Wedge dropped the struggling veteran to ninth in the batting order and said he needs to see some offensive production.
Ryan was hitting .149 going into Sunday's game, well below his career average of .256.
"It's not a forever thing unless he gets himself going," said Wedge, who had tried jump-starting Ryan by batting him second in recent games. "But I still want to give him an opportunity to do that. I know he's a lot better than what we've seen, but he has to go up there and defend himself and compete better than what he's been doing."
Left-handed-hitting Munenori Kawasaki started at shortstop Saturday. But Kawasaki wasn't regarded as a strong offensive player in Japan, and he went 0-for-3 and is batting just .194.
Thus Wedge went with Ryan on Sunday, along with all his right-handed hitters, against Yankees southpaw Andy Pettitte.
"Hopefully, a lefty today will help him, and he's hitting in the nine-hole and we'll see what happens," Wedge said.
Mariners to honor Bat Girl on May 21
NEW YORK -- Nancy Haunty, a Shoreline, Wash., woman who has been fighting cancer for nearly 10 years, has been named the Mariners' 2012 Honorary Bat Girl as part of Major League Baseball's annual Mother's Day program.
Each Major League team selects an Honorary Bat Girl to raise awareness for MLB's Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative. Because the Mariners are on the road this Sunday on Mother's Day, Haunty will be honored when the team returns to Safeco Field for its next home game on Monday, May 21.
Haunty was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. After successful surgery and treatment, the disease went into remission until '07. When the cancer returned, she underwent six months of chemotherapy, two mastectomies and reconstructive surgery.
After two cancer-free years, she learned in '09 that she had Stage Four cancer that had spread to her liver, lungs and spine. Though not in full remission, Haunty says she was responding well to treatment until discovering the cancer had spread to her brain earlier this year.
Two weeks ago, Haunty had surgery at Swedish Medical Center's Cherry Hill campus in Seattle. She says the procedure went smoothly and she will have a scan in a few weeks to see how the tumor is responding to the treatment.
In spite of the many surgeries, treatments and recurrences of cancer, Haunty has maintained a positive attitude with the love and support of her husband, Jake, family and friends.
"Anyone who gets hit by a fastball, you think you can't handle another setback, but you do, and you go on to the next challenge," she said.
Haunty continues working full-time and also volunteers with local organizations that help breast-cancer survivors with financial assistance, caring baskets and group physical activities. She traveled to Washington, D.C., last year to testify to the FDA in favor of a drug that was effective in her treatment program.
Haunty will participate in a pregame ceremony on May 21, decked out in her personalized pink Mariners jersey. She'll be joined by her husband, friend Kelly West, who nominated her for the honor, and her in-laws, who are flying in from Ohio for the event.
• Blake Beavan threw in the bullpen on Sunday and is in line to return to the rotation on Tuesday in Boston. Beavan was originally scheduled to start Sunday in New York, but he was pushed back two days after getting hit in the right elbow by a line drive in his last start Monday against the Tigers.
• Going into Sunday's game, the Mariners were 19-15 in Mother's Day games, having won six of their last seven.
• Erasmo Ramirez made his second start for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday night and threw five scoreless innings with three hits, no walks and six strikeouts in a 6-1 victory over Round Rock at Cheney Stadium. The 22-year-old picked up his first victory since being sent down to Tacoma after opening the season in the Mariners' bullpen.