SEATTLE — Small changes didn’t get the job done for the Seattle Mariners in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Yankees, and that led manager Eric Wedge to imply more changes ahead.
“We can’t keep watching this,” he said. “We have to be better offensively.”
Wedge tried elevating second baseman Nick Franklin to the second spot in the order — his highest position in the 13 games he has played since coming up from Triple-A Tacoma.
“I’ve been debating about it,” Wedge said. “We’re thin as it is. He’s been putting up as good an at-bat as anybody. He’s not shy, so I think that probably works for him. … I wouldn’t have done it if I thought I would affect him in any way. That’s one of his positive attributes, though.”
Franklin admitted he is comfortable in the second spot, but he went 0-for-4.
“I felt like usual,” he said. “Even in Triple-A, I was batting first and second, so it was nothing that I wasn’t used to. It was like a normal day. I just think that today wasn’t a good day.”
Additional help could be getting closer in the form of improved health.
Wedge said first baseman Justin Smoak (abdominal muscle) and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring) are making progress and could begin playing for the Tacoma Rainiers this week.
There they could reunite with second baseman Dustin Ackley, who is hitting over .400 since being sent down May 27.
However, Wedge indicated the Mariners don’t want to rush Ackley back up.
“He’s down there working on his approach,” Wedge said. “It’s not his swing; we’ve talked about that. It’s more his mental approach. When we feel like he’s to the point where that’s locked in and it will play up here, then we’ll get him up here. We’re going to give him some time to do that.”
In terms of the far more distant future, Wedge said he wasn’t actively involved in the first-year player draft, which concluded Saturday. However, he expressed faith in Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom Allison.
“Tom learned from the best because Jack was the best,” Wedge said. “And Tom’s one of the best now. I think he did a great job again. I’m not on the inner circle of that. I haven’t been studying this. But I know that they feel good about it, and so, so do I.”
Also Sunday, the Mariners announced the trade of minor league infielder Vinnie Catricala to the Oakland Athletics for a player to be named or cash.
Catricala, 24, hit .253 in 48 games at Double-A Jackson. The Mariners took him in the 10th round of the 2009 draft out of the University of Hawaii. He was designated for assignment June 2 when Seattle selected former Pasco High School pitcher Jeremy Bonderman from the Rainiers.
Sunday’s announced crowd of 43,389 was the largest of the season at Safeco Field. It resulted from a combination of Felix Hernandez on the mound, the Yankees in town, a Little League Day promotion and a mostly sunny Sunday afternoon. “You always want to play in front of a bigger crowd,” Wedge said before the game. “It brings more energy — always a lot of fun.” … A mock “Ichiro” chant went up in the seventh inning when New York right fielder and former Mariner Ichiro Suzuki dropped a high fly in foul territory hit by Raul Ibanez. … Eddie Johnson, a forward with Seattle Sounders FC and the U.S. men’s national soccer team, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.