05/27/12 4:47 PM ET
For Wedge, consistency proves most elusive
By Josh Liebeskind / MLB.com
The offensive approach has perplexed Wedge lately, and also left the Mariners reeling on a three-game losing streak as they head into Sunday's contest with the Angels. That comes after the team won five of six and seemed to be headed in the right direction. But Wedge said it won't be one obvious moment when the Mariners turn the corner.
"It's not one specific moment, that's what I think everyone looks for," he said. "It's just not black and white. That's why baseball is a much more difficult game to dissect than other sports. Baseball usually lives in the gray, whereas a lot of these other sports, more black and white.
"You've got so many moving parts in such a multi-skilled sport. Like I said, everybody's their own story, so I break it down to three parts -- you got your collectible, you got your different areas of your ballclub and you got the individuals within those areas."
Despite the frustrations, Wedge said it isn't the toughest spot he's been in with a ballclub. That would fall to the early days of his time as the manager of the Indians, a young team he eventually took to the playoffs.
To turn that corner, Wedge said it is imperative to have a game plan and stick to it, which is something the Mariners are in the process of doing. Individually, he is seeing some players making the progression, but there are times when he sees regression, as well.
"What I don't like -- and this bothers me more than anything -- is when I see guys moving in the right direction, and sometimes they'll back it up to the point where they started at," Wedge said. "Then you re-tread over the same real estate. ... I don't like that.
"That's a discipline, that's more concentration, that's a focus -- that's the one thing that bothers me and that's what we're not going to accept. So when I get upset, it's because of that."
As lineup evolves, Figgins gets a rare call
SEATTLE -- The Mariners lineup for the Sunday's series finale against the Angels again took on a new look, with Chone Figgins getting a rare start in center field and Alex Liddi in at left field.
Manager Eric Wedge made it clear the lineup would continue to change for the foreseeable future.
"You're not going to have a consistent lineup until you know what your players are capable of doing," he said. "Because you can't do that until you know what you have. You can' t do that until they develop as Major League players.
"It takes time to do that. So throughout that process, you get into the lineup, you put the best lineup out there you feel is capable of winning a ballgame -- which is first and foremost in all of our minds, or should be -- and then you let it play out."
It was just the second start for Figgins since he was demoted to a utility role after the experiment of starting him in left and leading off was discontinued in mid-May. The veteran is hitting just .180 this season.
Meanwhile, Wedge continues to try to get Liddi playing time in left to improve his versatility. The rookie is a natural third baseman and is able to play first, as well.
"Just being more comfortable going after the ball," said Wedge, of the improvements he's seen from Liddi in the outfield. "That ball comes your way, I think his heartbeat's better. I think his head's a little bit more smooth when he runs, so the ball's not bouncing as much. I think his jumps are a little bit better."
Gutierrez headed to extended spring training
SEATTLE -- Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez will make the next step in his rehab process by playing in extended spring training in Arizona.
Out since February with a partially torn pectoral muscle, Gutierrez then suffered another setback when he was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his foot while he was rehabbing that injury. The pectoral injury is fully healed, but Gutierrez has been able to run for less than a week.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said the former Gold Glove winner has been able to take batting practice and run without any problems.
"Had a really good day today," Wedge said Sunday. "So the plan is, we're going to look to get him out of here, get him down to Arizona for a short period of time, then to look to get him to Tacoma."
Gutierrez is expected to use all 20 days of his allotted rehab time with Triple-A Tacoma because of the extended time he missed throughout Spring Training.
Mike Carp stole his first career base Saturday. That gave the Mariners a stolen base in four straight games, which tied their previous season high (May 15-18).
Alberto Callaspo's grand slam Saturday was the fourth career slam allowed by Felix Hernandez, and just the sixth pinch-hit grand slam allowed by the Mariners in club history.
The Mariners had a walk-up crowd of 4,559 on Saturday, which is the second-largest ever for Safeco Field, behind the 4,880 for the April 26, 2000, game against Cleveland.