Mariners will rely on Lee in platoon vs. lefties

Mariners will rely on Lee in platoon vs. lefties

SEATTLE -- With the Mariners struggling against left-handed pitching in their first five games, manager Scott Servais said he'll definitely keep relying on right-handed hitting first baseman Dae-Ho Lee in a platoon situation against southpaws as he attempts to balance his lineup.

The Mariners put up a .160/.281/.360 line in their first five games against lefties compared to .356/.415/.678 against righties. That figures to balance out over time, but clearly Seattle leans left in its lineup and platoon players Lee and right fielder Franklin Gutierrez remain keys to solving that issue.

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Left-handed hitting first baseman Adam Lind was acquired to be a middle-of-the-order threat, but he's been limited by the string of lefties Seattle has faced in the first week from the Rangers and A's. Starting with Sunday's series finale against the A's Chris Bassitt, three of the next four games line up against right-handers, so Lind and right fielder Seth Smith will see increased time, but Servais knows his righties will need to help out as the season progresses.

Lind has a career OPS of .862 against right-handers compared to .585 against lefties.

"[Lind will play more] once we get into the right-handed pitching. But teams are going to throw left-handers at us when they can, based on our lineup and how it's designed," Servais said. "We need to get the right-handed guys going a little bit. Guti is off to a slow start and he's a big key for us. No doubt we need to get him back on the right track."

Lee unleashed a towering home run in the fifth inning of Friday's 3-2 loss to the A's and got his second straight start Saturday against southpaw Rich Hill.

Switch-hitting shortstop Ketel Marte was 1-for-11 against lefties compared to 3-for-4 against righties in the first four games and Nelson Cruz hasn't been hot early, so those are two more players who should help more against southpaws over the long haul.

Worth noting

• The Mariners have the oldest average age of players on the opening 25-man roster of any team in the Majors at 30.4, based on players' ages as of July 1 this year. The Pirates are second at 29.9, while the D-backs are the youngest team at 27.0.

Having 40-year-old reliever Joel Peralta and 38-year-old Joaquin Benoit pushes Seattle's average up, but the Mariners are also second to only the Royals for the most players aged 30 and older with 14. Seattle's position players average 30.7 years, which is tied with the Yankees for the oldest position group in MLB.

• Like many managers, Servais brought in closer Steve Cishek in a non-save situation in the ninth inning of Friday's game with the score knotted at 2, knowing at that point his club couldn't get into a save situation being the home team in a tie game.

"Yeah, there's no reason to hold him out, is kind of the way I'm looking at it," Servais said. "You line your pitching up, we were coming off an off-day, guys were fresh. And outside of one pitch, I thought Steve threw the ball fine. He just made a mistake and didn't quite get the ball in enough and [Chris Coghlan] put a good swing on it [with the go-ahead home run]. But that's kind of how I roll. If guys are fresh, you line up your eighth and ninth inning guys to pitch in those spots and hopefully you win it in the bottom half."

Guillermo Heredia, the Cuban center fielder who signed with the Mariners in late February, hit a grand slam in Double-A Jackson's 9-2 victory over Montgomery on Friday.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.