SEATTLE -- Catcher Jesus Montero and first baseman Justin Smoak, both battling through tough spells at the plate, were given Monday off as the Mariners opened a three-game series against the Orioles.
Montero is hitless in his last 17 at-bats as his average has dropped to .249. Smoak doubled in his final at-bat in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox, but is just 2-for-30 in his last nine games, and his average is down to .204.
Manager Eric Wedge had Dustin Ackley at first base on Monday in Smoak's place, with Munenori Kawasaki starting at second. With Ichiro Suzuki in right field and Hisashi Iwakuma making his first Major League start on the mound, the game marked the first time in MLB history that three Japanese players started in the same lineup.
Wedge wanted to give Montero and Smoak a day to work on some things in pregame and then just watch the game. He indicated both would be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
"With Montero, he's just young and going through a lot of young things, having some youthful at-bats," Wedge said. "He's got a lot of ability; he's just working through some failure that he probably hasn't had before. The difference up here is these guys are facing good pitching each and every night. There's no let up, no days off.
"With Smoak, it's a combination of things. He's further along in his young career, but he's working to figure out some things, too. Some are mechanical, some are about his approach and what-not.
"Smoaker is best when he's loose and free and easy and working to get a good pitch to hit and letting the rest take care of itself," said Wedge. "Montero is best when he's not in quite such a hurry up there and works to get a better pitch to hit instead of trying to cover everything. These are two players that are going to have fine Major League careers and potentially even better than that, but right now they're going through some things they just have to go through."