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.
The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.
We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”
Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.