Mariners won’t bench struggling Ichiro Suzuki

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Ichiro Suzuki is having the worst season of his career and his streak of consecutive 200-hit seasons is all but certain to end at 10, but manager Eric Wedge said yesterday that he has no plans to bench the 37-year-old right fielder down the stretch.

“We’re going to continue to give him opportunities at the top of the lineup as we play this out,” Wedge told Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. “As long as he’s physically able, I think he’s earned that.”

Wedge noted that it’s tough for the coaching staff to help Suzuki bust out of slumps because “it’s such a unique style” of hitting and “not something you can break down.”

Ichiro hit at least .300 with a .350 on-base percentage in each of his first 10 seasons, but is batting just .269 with a .307 OBP through 125 games and his .631 OPS is 116 points below his previous career-low. He’d need 59 hits in the Mariners’ final 36 games to reach 200 for the 11th straight season and prior to this year Suzuki averaged 51 hits per 36 games for his career.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.