9/18/2013 7:00 P.M. ET
Mariners deal with anticipated mistakes by rookies
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
DETROIT -- Defensive lapses by rookies have caused problems for the Mariners in a couple recent games, but manager Eric Wedge cautioned Wednesday that such is the fate when playing so many young players against veteran clubs such as the Cardinals and Tigers in pennant-race situations.
Nick Franklin had a situation Tuesday where he didn't get after a ball that had rolled behind third base in a rundown, allowing the runner from first to move into scoring position. And center fielder Abraham Almonte rushed a throw home on a shallow fly ball that turned into an easy sacrifice fly in the Tigers' 6-2 win.
Wedge said both youngsters will learn from their mistakes, with Franklin needing to keep his head up and not assume anything and Almonte needing to get his feet set and more under control instead of rushing.
"We have eight or nine players who made their Major League debut this year. That's quite a bit," Wedge said. "And 30 in three years. When you're breaking in that many young players, you're going to have young mistakes. It's part of it. We don't have the veterans playing that we thought would be playing coming out of Spring Training. So you either go out and get somebody or you bring your young players up. That's what you do and it's just a process of that.
"We have 20-some players here that have less than three years coming into this year. That's a big number. So you have to be patient and work through it. It's a rebuild. That's what it was when I got here, and you have to continue to work these guys in."
The Mariners started five rookies in Tuesday's game against a Tigers club loaded with veterans and contending again for the American League Central title. Wedge acknowledged it's challenging to still be going through that youth process after three seasons.
"It is tough. When you sign up for a rebuild, like I did, you know you're going to have some tough days, because you're not going to see the wins like you'd like to see right away," Wedge said. "But if you going to do it the right way, you're going to stick with it. If you don't, they pull the cord on it and start all over. How's that worked out for them? You have to stick with something at some point in time. And these young kids, we've got some kids who can play. They're just not the players they're going to be yet. It takes some time."
Veteran Ibanez makes adjustments to approach
DETROIT -- Even after 18 years and 2,063 Major League games, Raul Ibanez is still learning. Still adjusting. Still figuring out what works and what doesn't when facing big league pitchers.
And lately, after a second-half slump that saw his torrid power streak curtailed, the 41-year-old outfielder has gotten back to doing something relatively simple at the plate that has helped him regain some of that earlier success.
"I've made a couple adjustments and am trying not to do too much," Ibanez said after hitting his 28th home run in Seattle's 6-2 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday. "Not swing so hard. Swing easier. And it's worked out a little better of late."
Many baseball veterans will talk about "trying easier" when they realize they've been overswinging or just pushing too hard to get themselves out of a rut. There's a temptation to swing as hard as possible when facing a Major League fastball, even for a guy who has been around as long as Ibanez.
"I fight that a lot," Ibanez said. "I think we all fight it as hitters, trying to not overswing. Just thinking more singles and line drives."
Ibanez hit 24 home runs with 56 RBIs in 73 games prior to the All-Star break, but Tuesday's shot was just his fourth homer and seventh RBI in 44 games since. He talked before Tuesday's game about not thinking about home runs, but just "filling the park with singles and line drives."
Then he went out and connected with a line drive that sailed over the right-field fence at Comerica Park off Anibal Sanchez, just the ninth homer the right-hander has given up in 27 starts this year.
• Since the start of the 2012 season, Kyle Seager ranks third among AL third basemen with 110 extra-base hits, behind only the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera (155) and Rangers' Adrian Beltre (127).
• Ibanez's home run on Tuesday was the 299th of his career. If he hits one more, he will join Willie Horton (1979), Ken Griffey Jr. ('98), Jay Buhner (2000), Edgar Martinez ('04) and Richie Sexson ('08) as players who hit their 300th career homer in a Mariners uniform, though not all the home runs leading up to No. 300 came with Seattle. Ibanez has hit 155 of his home runs while with the Mariners.