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Originally published May 22, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 31, 2007 at 9:07 PM

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M's Notebook | Sexson back from bench

Manager Mike Hargrove penciled Richie Sexson into his usual cleanup spot for Monday's makeup game against the Cleveland Indians, ending...

Special to The Seattle Times

CLEVELAND — Manager Mike Hargrove penciled Richie Sexson into his usual cleanup spot for Monday's makeup game against the Cleveland Indians, ending two games on the bench for the struggling first baseman.

"Today's the day for Richie," Hargrove said. "The thing is — up until really the last couple of days — Richie hasn't been swinging the bat that bad. In talking to [hitting coach] Jeff Pentland and watching Richie myself, he's swinging at balls in good counts."

That may be the case, but Sexson's numbers haven't shown much progress. Not lately, at least.

Sexson, who was 2 for 4 with a double, has hit left-handers (.222) better than righties (.153), and the Mariners will see a pair of Tampa Bay lefties — Scott Kazmir and Casey Fossum — after facing Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia on Monday.

Mariners five-game planner

Today | @ Tampa Bay, 4:10 p.m., FSN | M's LHP Jarrod Washburn (3-4, 3.35) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (2-2, 3.83).

Wednesday | @ Tampa Bay, 4:10 p.m., Ch. 11 | M's RHP Miguel Batista (3-4, 6.15) vs. LHP Casey Fossum (3-3, 7.80)

Thursday | @ Tampa Bay, 12:10 p.m., no TV | M's LHP Horacio Ramirez (4-2, 6.10) vs. RHP Jae Seo (2-4, 7.80).

Friday | @ Kansas City, 5:10 p.m., FSN | M's RHP Felix Hernandez (2-2, 2.77) vs. RHP Gil Meche (3-2, 2.44).

Saturday | @ Kansas City, 4:10 p.m., Ch. 11 | M's RHP Cha Seung Baek (1-2, 5.50) vs. RHP Brian Bannister (0-2, 4.39).

Sexson didn't change any routines or prepare differently the last few days. Hargrove is hoping that Sexson's short time off will be the cure to a season-long slump.

"We just tried a different technique," said Sexson, who snapped a four-game hitless string with a third-inning single off Sabathia and later added a second hit. "I've done the same things every day, and I'm consistently working at getting better."

Still seething

A strike away from an official game and, perhaps, a loss, Hargrove was convinced the playing conditions April 6 at Jacobs Field were simply unplayable.

But Hargrove will never be convinced that Major League Baseball rescheduled that four-game series April 6-9 as well as it could have.

"I think that we got the short end of the stick," he said. "We were here to play. The weather didn't allow us to play. It wasn't any more the Indians' fault than it was our fault. And the way they decided to make it up ... "

Come on, Grover. How do you really feel?

"You don't want to know," he said.

Hargrove had proposed a plan that included one doubleheader in Cleveland and a third game tagged onto an already-scheduled game in Seattle. And the fourth game, Hargrove said, could have been played at the end of the season — if necessary.

"That would have been preferable," Hargrove said.

Ibanez out again

While Sexson was back in Hargrove's lineup, left fielder Raul Ibanez rested his stiff back. Willie Bloomquist started in his place, but Ibanez said his back has improved significantly since his last start Friday.

Ibanez's back even felt all right after his team's cross-country flight to Cleveland.

"They just told me to sit straight," said Ibanez, who threw and hit off a tee before Monday's game. "I could recline, but I could do it straight back."

Notes

• Reliever Sean White has allowed only three hits over his last eight innings — all scoreless — and his earned-run average has dropped from 6.28 to 4.03. Reliever Brandon Morrow's ERA has taken a significant dip, as well, from 4.32 to 2.25. Morrow has pitched 12 scoreless innings over his last nine appearances.

Ichiro's fifth-inning strikeout — his second of the game — was the 1,000th of Sabathia's career.

For the record

W-L PCT
19-21 .475

Streak: L2

Home: 12-11

Road: 7-10

vs. AL West: 8-7

vs. L.A.: 1-5

vs. Oakland: 4-1

vs. Texas: 3-1

vs. AL East: 5-5

vs. AL Central: 5-7

vs. NL: 1-2

vs. LHP: 6-3

vs. RHP: 13-18

Day: 7-7

Night: 12-14

One-run: 4-5

Extra innings: 0-0

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