Ichiro Suzuki returns to leadoff spot in Mariners order

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Eric Wedge’s offseason lineup switches just didn’t work out.

A month after pulling Chone Figgins out of the leadoff spot and the lineup altogether, Wedge has decided to go back to Ichiro Suzuki at the top of the order.

Suzuki hit third and started in right field in each of the Mariners’ first 52 games before taking a seat Wednesday. He also had Thursday’s off day to rest up.

Suzuki was a pretty obvious bust as a No. 3 hitter, even though this year’s .271/.305/.367 line is a slight improvement over where he finished last year. He drove in just 17 runs in the 52 games. The Mariners and the Phillies, with 15, are the only teams to get fewer than 20 RBI out of their No. 3 hitters to date.

The incredible thing is that the Mariners have managed a pretty respectable offense anyway. After Wednesday’s outburst, they’re averaging 4.11 runs per game, good for 18th in the majors. They were dead last in the majors at 3.17 runs per game in 2010 and 3.43 last year.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.