Casper Wells makes good use of stint at leadoff spot
Wells was the seventh different batter at leadoff for the Mariners this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Struggling to put together a mainly right-handed batting order, the Mariners on Sunday made Casper Wells the seventh leadoff hitter used this season.
Wells joined Chone Figgins, Ichiro, Dustin Ackley, Brendan Ryan, Michael Saunders and John Jaso as players to be tried in the No. 1 spot. The move came as Mariners manager Eric Wedge opted to sit the struggling Ackley against tough Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Matt Moore.
Ackley is 6 for 37 (.162) since the All-Star break.
Wells didn't wait long to give the Mariners some payback on the move, opening the game with a double down the right-field line.
"Wells has been putting up competitive at-bats, so we'll see if that triggers something today," Wedge said. "Obviously it's been a tough couple of days offensively, so this gives us a bit of a different look."
The Mariners struck out 15 times in a win on Saturday and 17 times in a 14-inning loss in Friday's opener. Wells has been one of the team's better hitters of late and entered Sunday with a .335 on-base percentage.
Justin Smoak appears to be nearing the end of his rope with the Mariners after an awful start to the second half and an 0-for-16 finish to the trip with seven strikeouts over that span. Smoak is 4 for 40 (.100) since the All-Star break ended with the team opting not to send him to Class AAA.
Of his four hits over that stretch, two have been for home runs. But that might not be enough to keep him in the majors with Mike Carp needing to be taken off the disabled list after Monday's deadline for his 20-day minor league rehabilitation assignment to end.
Carp has been playing first base for AAA Tacoma and the thought is he will take at least some playing time away from Smoak.
Wedge said before Sunday's game that he hasn't seen enough out of either Smoak or Ackley yet and that both remain inconsistent.
"He's still having struggles from the left side," Wedge said of Smoak. "A bit better in BP.
"Ackley had it going there for a few days and he's had a tough couple of days. I think it's there, but they just haven't been able to sustain it."
• The Mariners scored first-inning runs in five of their seven games on the trip.
• Seattle had lost nine in a row to Tampa Bay and was 1-12 at Tropicana Field before winning the last two games here.