Mariners manager Eric Wedge made a curious announcement this morning. After being asked about Robert Andino being in the line-up and the possibility of getting some contributions from him offensively, Wedge casually mentioned that Andino will be staying in the line-up.
“I’ve actually talked to both Robert and Brendan and I’m going to give Andino an opportunity to play a little bit more,” Wedge said. “I wanted to be upfront with both those guys, I was, but I had very strong conversations with both of those guys because of the responsibility that goes along with playing more, with Andino. Of course, with Brendan, it was what I feel he needs to do to get to where he needs to go.”
How much more?
“I’m going to take it day by day, week by week, month by month,” Wedge said. “I’m going to give Robert a chance to play and see where he takes it.”
It’s similar to the decision Wedge made with Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach at catcher. There is no starter and no back-up. He just plays them both. But with this, it’s clear that Andino is going to get the bulk of the playing time in the foreseeable future.
The decision is somewhat surprising since Andino (5-for-31 with 11 strikeouts) isn’t hitting that much better than Ryan (8-for-56 with 14 strikeouts). They are in many ways essentially the same hitter. The difference is that Ryan is an elite defensive player and Andino is about average.
But it seems as though Ryan’s hitting and his approach or complete lack thereof might have finally taken it’s toll on Wedge.
“You can’t expect change by doing the same thing every day,” Wedge said. “You’ve got to change your habits. You have to change the way you go about doing things. This is going to give him a chance to work with Dave Hansen and take a step back and hopefully take two steps forward. It’s up to him.”
The Mariners simply couldn’t do this last year because they had Munenori Kawasaki as the back-up, and Wedge wasn’t going to play him every day.
“We stuck with him last year because we felt we’d give him every opportunity, quite frankly, we had an opportunity to give him every opportunity,” Wedge said.
Ryan is a passionate player, who often beats himself up for his lack of offensive production. Wedge has seen it before.
“It’s the mental side,” Wedge said. “It’s definitely the way with him, whether it be positively or negatively. And that leads to the fundamental. It is what it is.”
There is a chance – better than likely – that Andino will show what many baseball people had felt all along – he’s not an every day shortstop.
In a week or two, the Mariners might then have to look to Triple A Tacoma and possibly Carlos Triunfel, who is hitting .321 with one homer and 8 RBI and a .351 OBP and .476 slugging percentage and is on the 40-man roster or Nick Franklin, who is hitting .325 with five homers and 19 RBI with a .494 OBP and a .500 slugging percentage and not on the 40-man roster. Brad Miller, who is playing well at Double A Jackson, is a Wedge favorite, but is also not on the roster, and a little more raw.