Gutierrez provides balance atop lineup

Gutierrez provides balance atop lineup

Gutierrez provides balance atop lineup
SEATTLE -- With a short list of right-handed batters, Mariners manager Eric Wedge hasn't really had any other option at the top of the lineup but to stack it with lefties.

Wedge experimented with switch-hitter Chone Figgins in the two-hole at the beginning of the season, but the veteran wasn't producing, and the skipper has been forced to go with the combination of left-handers Ichiro Suzuki, Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager at the top of the lineup. With the return of outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list, though, Wedge now has the option of balancing the lineup.

Wedge did just that for Friday's game against the Giants, moving Gutierrez to second in the order and dropping Ackley into the seventh spot.

"That was part of changing the lineup," Wedge said. "I just wanted more balance, now that we have [Gutierrez] back here. It's just too hard to do it the way we've been doing it with all the lefties. It doesn't play well early with the starter because it allows him to get into a rhythm facing everybody from the same side of the plate.

"We didn't have a choice with it because that was the cast of characters we've had, but now we're bouncing them back and forth a little bit with the left and the right. I think that will bode better for us."

The way the Mariners have struggled offensively as a team, and especially with his personal troubles at the plate lately, Ackley is a proponent of the change. In 22 games since May 18, Ackley is hitting just 19-for-89 (.213), including 3-for-18 (.167) in his last four games. He is currently riding a career-high 13 straight games with a strikeout.

"We've been left-handed-hitter dominant lately, I feel like," he said. "I think with the way I've not [been] hitting that great lately, I think [Gutierrez] going to the two-hole, I think that's where he's hit a lot, I think a little change might be needed the way we've been going the past couple days."