Mariners manager Mike Hargrove sat three Seattle regulars on his bench Saturday – one because of heatlh issues, one who needed a mental breather and a third who has developed an affinity for pitches high and out of the strike zone.
Left fielder Raul Ibanez, who missed an earlier game with back spasms, came to Safeco Field with a stiff back. He was replaced in the lineup by Jason Ellison, making his first start as a Mariner.
First baseman Richie Sexson, who had started 37 of the first 38 games for Seattle – and lately been its cleanup hitter – was given a day off after an 0-for-15 slump that was clearly weighing on him.
"Richie will get one day and it might not be just one day," Hargrove said. "It’s 98 per cent mental right now, and last night I saw a look in his eyes coming back to the dugout I hadn’t been seeing.
"When he looks like he’s not going to hang himself, he’ll go back in."
Left-handed hitting Ben Broussard started at Sexson’s position and at cleanup.
And there was shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, replaced for the night by reserve Willie Bloomquist.
Betancourt hit a couple of high fastballs for home runs early in the season, and has been chasing that pitch since. When coaches and Hargrove tried to get him to stop, he continued – and about a week ago, Betancourt was told if he continued to chase high pitches out of the strike zone, he’d find himself on the bench.
He chased on Thursday for a third strike, was warned again, then repeated the swing on Friday night.