Notebook | Aching hamstring leads Ichiro to pass on Derby
Ichiro decided to decline his first invitation to the Home Run Derby because of lingering concerns about a tight hamstring that prevented him from starting a game in Oakland last Wednesday.
Seattle Times Staff Reporter
Mariners five-game planner
Today | @ Kansas City, 11:10 a.m., FSN | M's RH Carlos Silva (4-11, 5.59) vs. RH Kyle Davies (3-1, 4.71).
Friday | vs. Cleveland, 7:10 p.m., FSN | TBA vs. TBA after the All-Star break.
Saturday | vs. Cleveland, 12:55 p.m. | TBA vs. TBA.
Sunday, July 20 | vs. Cleveland, 1:10 p.m., FSN | TBA vs. TBA.
Monday, July 21 | vs. Boston, 7:10 p.m., FSN | TBA vs. TBA.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ichiro had said upon being selected to the American League All-Star team that he would participate in the Home Run Derby if asked.
Well, he was indeed asked last week by Major League Baseball officials if he would make his first Derby appearance. But after reflecting on it for a few days, he decided to decline the invitation because of lingering concerns about a tight hamstring that prevented him from starting a game in Oakland last Wednesday.
"Yes, I was asked," Ichiro confirmed on Saturday, through interpreter Ken Barron. "But because of my hamstring, I decided not to participate."
Ichiro still plans to play in the All-Star Game.
Manager Jim Riggleman asked him about taking a day off before the break. Ichiro declined at the time, but had agreed to be a designated hitter at some point during the current trip to get rest.
That became a moot point when he sat out most of Thursday's game. He entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter, then played the rest of the way in a 3-2, 11-inning defeat.
Ichiro went hitless in Friday's series opener here, the first time in his last 26 games against the Royals — stretching over a three-year span — that he had failed to notch at least one hit.
Mariners interim general manager Lee Pelekoudas said he was approached by Ichiro this week and asked for his opinion about the right fielder participating in the Derby.
"I think it would have been nice for him to participate if he wanted to," Pelekoudas said. "You watch him in batting practice and he puts on a show."
"I think he would have won the thing," he said.
New spot for Hulett
A shock greeted new Mariner Tug Hulett as he arrived in the visitors' clubhouse before Saturday's game. Not just because he was penciled into the starting lineup, enabling him to make his major-league debut against the Royals, but because he was the designated hitter.
"I'm not really your prototype DH," said Hulett, who stands 5 feet 8 and played mostly shortstop and second base for Class AAA Tacoma. "I know that's what everybody's saying. 'A 5-8 DH? Let's see that.' "
But Hulett did show some flashes of power before being called up last Thursday, when Tacoma was on a road trip to Salt Lake City. He had hit seven home runs in his last 24 games, and he isn't afraid of hitting with two strikes.
"That's why we've got three of them," he quipped, with a smile.
Riggleman doesn't exactly have a whole lot of options for improving the DH role. Kenji Johjima entered Saturday hitting .216 with a .297 slugging percentage, Jeff Clement was .162 with a .324 slugging percentage, and Jose Vidro — the regular DH — was at .214 with a .311 slugging total.
Hulett struck out with a runner on his first time up to end the second inning Saturday. But he collected his first big-league hit, a bloop single to center in the fifth off Gil Meche. Riggleman was considering giving Hulett a start at second base for today's finale and moving Jose Lopez to DH.
• Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre received some sad news a couple of hours before the game. Bobby Murcer, a longtime friend and former Yankees teammate, died of brain cancer on Saturday in Oklahoma City. He was 62.
"The funny thing is, I was just thinking about him yesterday," Stottlemyre said. "It was just being back here [in Kansas City]. Whenever we used to come in here with the Yankees, he'd have a whole cheering section of family and friends that used to drive up from Oklahoma to see the game."
Stottlemyre said he and Murcer — who had been working on Yankees radio broadcasts for years — were "best friends" when they played and that the friendship was rekindled years ago when Stottlemyre was diagnosed with cancer.
"When I went through my battle, he was there for me a lot," Stottlemyre said. "We stayed in touch a lot regularly. I tried to do the same with him through his cancer."
• Former Mariners starter Horacio Ramirez, now a reliever with the Royals, retired six batters in a row in a 2-1/3-inning performance Saturday after coming on in the eighth. Ramirez, cut by the Mariners in spring training, signed a minor-league deal with the Royals in late May.
For the record
vs. AL West: 11-17
vs. L.A.: 3-6
vs. Oakland: 4-5
vs. Texas: 4-6
vs. AL East: 11-18
vs. AL Cent.: 5-14
vs. NL: 9-9
vs. LHP: 9-16
vs. RHP: 27-42
Extra innings: 2-4
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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