ARLINGTON -- Kyle Seager has received plenty of notice for his timely hitting this year, with his team-leading 81 RBIs and 18 home runs entering Friday. But the Mariners' young third baseman has drawn increasingly rave reviews of late with his glove as well.
Seager made an outstanding play in Thursday's 8-3 loss at Toronto when he fielded a bunt by the Blue Jays' Jeff Mathis, faked the throw to first and then wheeled and caught Rajai Davis at third after the speedy outfielder had rounded the base too far. Shortstop Brendan Ryan came in behind him to make the catch and tag.
"I'm not sure if I've ever done it exactly like that," Seager said. "But it's a situation where he bunted and I wasn't expecting it. I was back and thought the only chance we'd have to get an out was if Felix [Hernandez] fielded it and threw to me at third.
"But when it got by him, I figured with the way Davis can run he might take a shot at just going straight around. It was fortunate Brendan got there. That was a real big part of the play. He did a real good job of getting to the bag and making it a nice easy throw for me."
Moments earlier, Seager had already nearly caught Davis after he let a bunt by Davis roll slowly down the line, then picked it up and caught him in a rundown between first and second after he'd aggressively rounded the first-base bag.
That is pretty impressive baseball instincts for a youngster who had primarily been a second baseman before last year. Manager Eric Wedge said Seager's play at third is "night and day" from a year ago.
"He worked as hard as anybody this spring to just get more comfortable over there, working with [bench coach] Robby Thompson and just doing all the things you need to do to make every type of play over there," said Wedge. "There's a lot more going on there than people maybe think about. But yeah, the baseball instincts, that's him. That's real. His feel and court awareness, if you will, has been pretty good over there."
For Seager, it's just been a matter of time spent at the hot corner.
"Last year when I moved over there, I'd played some there in college, but not in the Minor Leagues," he said. "I'm still learning a lot, and Robby has helped me. I think last year I would have said I'm comfortable at third, but more comfortable at second. Now, I'm pretty evenly comfortable at either one."
Felix to get extra day of rest before next start
ARLINGTON -- The Mariners have pushed Felix Hernandez's next start back a day as they work youngsters Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez into their rotation, but manager Eric Wedge said he isn't concerned about his ace feeling fatigued in the final weeks of the season.
Noesi will start Monday against the Orioles as the Mariners open a six-game homestand. Ramirez will follow on Tuesday, with Hernandez now slated for Wednesday.
It will be Noesi's first start since rejoining the club as a September callup, while Ramirez has already won his initial outing since returning from Triple-A Tacoma.
Hernandez has lost three straight starts in September, with a 9.00 ERA on 16 earned runs and 30 hits in 16 innings against the Angels, A's and Blue Jays, but is still in position to make three more starts over the team's final 18 games.
Hernandez leads the Majors in innings pitched at 212 2/3, and this is the fifth straight season he's pitched over 200. Wedge noted that pitching coach Carl Willis always takes some precautions at this point, but didn't plan on any big changes.
"Carl and Felix communicate well and they both have done a pretty good job of monitoring Felix," Wedge said. "When you get down to the last month or so, you almost always back off your workload, whether it be your side days or training routine or whatever it may be. ... He's going to get an extra day this next time and that means a lot."
Wedge said he has seen no signs of fatigue with the 26-year-old.
"He still has good velocity," said Wedge. "He's still strong. He's stuck to his routine. He's been here before workload-wise. He's as strong and in as good of shape as he's ever been. I don't think that's it. It's just a matter of executing pitches."
One pitcher who will see his work reduced is veteran Kevin Millwood, whose last start was cut short after five innings and 66 pitches due to stiffness in his throwing shoulder.
"We're still going to give him some more time," Wedge said. "We don't have any firm plans with him yet, and we don't have to really, because of the flexibility with Noesi and Ramirez. We'll continue to give him some time and see how his shoulder comes back."
Triunfel happy, but downplays first hit
ARLINGTON -- Mariners rookie shortstop Carlos Triunfel got his first Major League hit with a double in the ninth inning of Thursday's 8-3 loss in Toronto, but the 22-year-old didn't make too big a deal of the moment.
"I felt happy to get that first hit," he said Friday, with bullpen coach Jaime Navarro acting as his interpreter. "I'm glad it's out of the way, and now I want to get ready for the next one."
The hit came in Triunfel's third Major League at-bat since being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma in September. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance earlier in the week, then grounded out in his first at-bat Thursday after replacing Brendan Ryan in the seventh inning of an 8-3 loss.
The young prospect saved the ball and said he'll give it to his father back home in the Dominican. But otherwise, he figures it's an event that he will pass as fast as his career allows.
"I just wanted the opportunity to be out there and get my first hit and then move on," Triunfel said. "It's not something I was especially thinking about. I just wanted to play good and get it done and get it out of the way and build on that."
Triunfel is behind Ryan and Munenori Kawasaki in the shortstop pecking order at the moment. Kawasaki got the start on Friday against Texas right-hander Yu Darvish. But manager Eric Wedge said he'll likely get Triunfel a start at some point in the final 2 1/2 weeks.
"I think we will," Wedge said. "We'll work off Ryan and Kawasaki when it's a good day to give them off or maybe not a good matchup for them. Right now, we feel the best matchup for tonight to help us win was Kawasaki. But I'm sure we'll get Carlos in there at some point in time."
• Double-A Jackson dropped a 4-2 decision in 10 innings to Mobile in Game 3 of the Southern League Championship Series on Thursday and took a 2-1 deficit into Friday night's game in Alabama.
Top Mariners prospect Taijuan Walker threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings with five hits, no walks and nine strikeouts before being sidelined by a blister on his pitching hand.
• Hitting with runners in scoring position has been a recent problem again for the Mariners, as they've batted .178 (16-for-90) in that situation in the first 11 games of September going into Friday's series opener with the Rangers.
• Munenori Kawasaki got the start at shortstop against Japanese counterpart Yu Darvish on Friday. Prior to this season, Kawasaki had hit .221 (19-for-86) against Darvish in Japan, with one home run and 10 RBIs. In 2010, Kawasaki was 10-for-19 (.526), but in '11, he went 3-for-27 with three infield singles.