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Originally published May 12, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Page modified May 12, 2012 at 10:48 PM

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Ryan takes seat on bench after struggles at the plate

The way he struck out in a critical at-bat in the series opener helped earn Brendan Ryan a seat on the bench.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Sunday @N.Y. Yankees, 10:05 a.m., ROOT | Millwood (0-4, 5.88) vs. Pettitte (0-0, 0.00)

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Tuesday @Boston, 1:05 p.m., ROOT | Beavan (1-3, 4.32) vs. Beckett (2-4, 5.97)

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Thursday @Cleveland, 9:05 a.m., ROOT | Noesi (2-4, 6.32) vs. TBA

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NEW YORK — The way he struck out in a critical at-bat in the series opener helped earn Brendan Ryan a seat on the bench.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge sat Ryan out during Saturday's 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees, inserting Munenori Kawasaki at shortstop and batting John Jaso in the No. 2 spot in the order.

Wedge had stuck by the .149-hitting Ryan, especially in the No. 2 spot where his right-handed bat was needed to split up left-handers Dustin Ackley and Ichiro atop the order. But Wedge said Ryan looked unable "to defend himself" against a fifth-inning strikeout Friday night with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game.

"He's trying to spread out, trying to see the ball and he's just not seeing the ball," Wedge said. "He's pulling off and not putting himself in a good position to cover the plate. He knows all this.

"He's not 25 years old. He's 30 years old," Wedge added. "It's time for him to figure out what he needs to do to be successful. I can't be any more honest than that."

Wedge said he'd prefer not to go with three left-handed bats atop the order, given how it could be a liability late in games if teams bring in a southpaw relief pitcher. But with Chone Figgins relegated to a utility role and Franklin Gutierrez hurt, Wedge is limited in the number of right-handed options he has at No. 2 if Ryan can't handle the role.

Notes

Jesus Montero will get another crack at working with veteran pitcher Kevin Millwood on Sunday. The Mariners said Montero will catch the series finale, coming right after he and Millwood repeatedly got their signals crossed in an outing last Tuesday.

There have been repeated internal conversations between the pair since.

Montero would normally be catching with the Yankees sending a left-hander, Andy Pettitte, to the mound. Backup catcher Jaso doesn't hit well against left-handers.

But the communication issue between Montero and Millwood had caused some hesitation in having them work together again so soon. But Wedge said it's part of Montero's development process and that he has to learn to properly call a game with a veteran pitcher out there.

Justin Smoak got a single in his first at-bat, marking the fourth straight at-bat in which he'd managed a hit this series. Smoak went 2 for 20 on the team's recent homestand.

Derek Jeter's single in the eighth off Tom Wilhelmsen was the 3,141st of his career, tying him with Tony Gwynn for 17th on baseball's all-time list.

For the record: W-L: 15-20 W PCT: .429 Streak: L2 Home: 7-8 Road: 8-12 vs. AL West: 6-5 vs. L.A.: 0-0 vs. Oakland: 5-2 vs. Texas: 1-3 vs. AL East: 1-8 vs. AL Cent: 8-7 vs. NL: 0-0 vs. LHP: 4-4 vs. RHP: 11-16 Day: 3-7 Night: 12-13 One-run: 5-7 Extra inngs: 2-1

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @gbakermariners.

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