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06/18/12 10:00 PM ET
Ichiro sits out as Mariners lose DH in Phoenix
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Without the use of the designated hitter on the road in Interleague Play, Mariners manager Eric Wedge decided to give Ichiro Suzuki the night off on Monday against the D-backs at Chase Field. It was the second time this year Wedge has decided to take the 38-year-old right fielder out of the starting lineup to give him a breather. He has been struggling at the plate, with his .255 batting average 68 points below his career mark of .323. Ichiro had played in 67 of the team's first 68 games, but Wedge gave the lefty hitter a break against D-backs southpaw Wade Miley. "It does help him to have a day off every now and again," Wedge said. "He's been playing for a long time and he does a great job of keeping himself in shape. He works hard. The routine doesn't change. But he's still human. To have a day every now and again is a good thing for him." When asked, Wedge indicated the night off was "just a one-day thing." Ichiro is in his 12th year in the Major Leagues after playing seven seasons for the Orix BlueWave in Japan's Pacific League. His next hit will be his 2,500th since he signed with the Mariners in 2001. He also pounded out 1,278 hits in Japan. Suzuki's offensive output began to slip last year, when he batted .272 with 184 hits, his first season in the Majors without at least 200 hits, snapping a Major League record of 10 seasons in a row. Wedge tried to get Ichiro going this year by moving him to the No. 3 slot in the batting from his traditional leadoff position. When that didn't work, Wedge shifted him back to the top spot. He has negligible power numbers with four homers and 23 RBIs. "What we're trying to do is give him period of time [back in the leadoff spot] to have some success and get him going again," Wedge said. "That's where he's most comfortable. That's where he likes to be. Hopefully he can get started and going from there. We gave him a period of time in the three hole. I felt like we needed to make the move there. "We're going to give him a period of time in the one hole, and hopefully he can get himself going."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.