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05/13/09 8:20 PM ET
Mariners replace Betancourt with Cedeno
Shortstop benched for inconsistent play at plate and in field
By Jim Street / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- There was a significant change in the Mariners' lineup for Wednesday night's game against the Rangers. Ronny Cedeno replaced Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop. "You reach a saturation point where you have to make decisions," manager Don Wakamatsu said before the game, "and today the decision is putting Ronny Cedeno in there and see how he does." Wakamatsu and the Mariners' coaching staff have become increasingly frustrated with Betancourt's inconsistency. His lackadaisical play on a grounder up the middle in Tuesday night's loss to Texas contributed to a six-run outburst in the seventh inning that sealed Seattle's sixth loss in the past seven games. "We're going to have to make some adjustments, or maybe look at some changes," Wakamatsu said after the 7-1 loss. "It's at a point where we have got to do something. We don't have a lot of options." Wakamatsu was particularly critical of the play Betancourt didn't make in the seventh inning. "If he makes that play, we get out of the inning and it's a 3-1 game," Wakamatsu said. Wakamatsu met with Betancourt and pitcher-turned-interpreter Miguel Batista inside the manager's office near the visiting team's clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon. "We had a discussion, and the biggest thing is to get him playing to his potential," Wakamatsu said. "When you go through a stretch like we've gone through, it's not singling him out, but to move forward to where we want to go, he has to raise his level of play, both offensively and defensively. "It's not an easy thing for a manager, and a lot of factors are involved. But we have to find a way to motivate him to play better baseball. Sometimes he has great games, and other times he has lapses." The 27-year-old Betancourt has lapsed into a 2-for-18 offensive funk on the current road trip and is 2-for-22 since May 4, dropping his batting average from .298 to .259. His occasional lapses on defense also have been costly. Wakamatsu said he wouldn't know if his stern talk on Wednesday hit home until Betancourt returns to the lineup. "We're looking for consistency for the rest of the season," Wakamatsu said. "Historically, his lack of patience at the plate is something we've talked about since Day 1 of Spring Training. We can't hit for him. He has to make the adjustments as we go forward." That being said, Wakamatsu added that Betancourt would, eventually, return to the lineup. But he didn't say when. Cedeno will get a chance to show what he can do. If he plays well, on offense and defense, and the team starts winning again, Wakamatsu probably would go with the hot hand for awhile. Wakamatsu said that the change at shortstop should not be construed as waving a white flag on anyone. "We're not giving up on these guys," he said. "I think there are some guys in the Minor Leagues [who could be promoted] but in fairness to the players here, it is such a long season you have to weather the storm a little bit. And that's what we're doing right now. "During the stretch we've had [11 losses in the past 15 games], we've had two or three good pitching performances that we haven't capitalized on it. I think everyone gets frustrated with it, but you have to back your team, and I am backing my team."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.