© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

04/02/08 10:10 PM ET

Betancourt shining in nine hole

Shortstop likely to stay at bottom of order, McLaren says

SEATTLE -- Traditionally, the ninth spot in a Major League batting order is reserved for a light-hitting defensive specialist.

That's only half true in Seattle, where shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt is off to a sizzling start with bat. The slick-fielding shortstop has five hits in his first eight-at bats this season, including a pair of doubles.

"I think Yuni's a special player," Mariners manager John McLaren said the day after his shortstop posted a four-hit night. "[Third baseman Adrian] Beltre's done a great job bringing this kid along, and those guys are having fun out there. I think you play your best baseball when you're having fun."

Despite his early success, don't expect Betancourt to be moved out of the nine-hole anytime soon.

"He's done so well at nine, and he's so comfortable there, I'm reluctant to move him," McLaren said. "We're going to stick with what we've got for a while."

Betancourt's solid offensive performance Tuesday night was overshadowed as the Mariners stranded 15 runners in a 5-4 loss to the Rangers, but McLaren isn't worried about his team's offense after only two games.

"I think we're a little overanxious," he said. "We're swinging at some pitches maybe we shouldn't, but it's a young season and our guys want to do well."

Richie Sexson echoed McLaren's sentiments after striking out with the bases loaded on a 3-2 pitch that was well out of the strike zone in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"I got too excited," Sexson said. "You want to hit a five-run homer right there, and I just swung at a bad pitch. I wanted to be great right there instead of just chilling out and just getting it done."

Chris Hester is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.