Ibanez's bat cooling off after hot streak
Mariners outfielder hasn't homered since hitting pair July 12
BOSTON -- After a torrid stretch during which he hit 15 home runs in 35 games in June and early July, Raul Ibanez has cooled considerably. The 41-year-old Mariners left fielder didn't have a home run in his last 12 games going into Wednesday's contest against the Red Sox.
He'd gone 10 straight games without an RBI since the All-Star break, hitting .135 (5-for-35) in that span as his batting average dipped to .252. Ibanez still has 24 home runs, but he's been stuck on that number since hitting a pair on July 12.
Acting manager Robby Thompson had Ibanez in the lineup again Wednesday, but acknowledged the club needs to be careful with the veteran's playing time if he's wearing down.
"Sure, you have to worry about that," Thompson said. "He's 41 years old. You can't forget about that. He's in great shape, he's going to play every day, he's not going to say he's tired. It's our responsibility to pick spots.
"But the stretch he went through doesn't last forever. That was a heck of a stretch he was on. After awhile, you don't see the ball as well for whatever reason. If we all knew that answer, nobody would go into slumps and everybody would be great hitters."
Thompson saw some positives in Ibanez's 1-for-4 night on Wednesday and knows he's constantly adjusting.
"He had a couple good at-bats [Tuesday] night and lined out with the ball to right and ended up getting a base hit," said Thompson. "When you struggle a little, you start swinging out of the zone. He's done that a little with balls that were elevated or down in the dirt. Guys knew what he's going through and how he was swinging the bat. They're going to move the ball around a little on him.
"He's a professional hitter and he'll make that adjustment. But yes, we do have to keep an eye on him. We're going into August and he's 41 years old. And a good 41 years old."
Mariners keep all their cards at Trade Deadline
BOSTON -- Jack Zduriencik took numerous calls on potential trades for some of his veteran players leading up to Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but in the end, the Mariners' general manager chose to stay pat with a club that has built some positive momentum with a 15-9 record in July.
"There were discussions," Zduriencik said. "But at the end, I didn't think there was the right situation for us at this time. There's an obligation here to our fans and certainly to the players here on this team. They've played well recently."
Zduriencik chose to hang on to veteran hitters Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez, as well as reliever Oliver Perez, starter Joe Saunders and shortstop Brendan Ryan, all players on one-year deals who could become free agents at season's end, in the hope of finishing strong and setting the right tone going forward.
"I think we have a good young big league club right now. You see that in front of your eyes," he said. "To detract from it, I think it would have been devastating to some of the guys in this clubhouse. I think it would have been the wrong message to send. So you stay the course and watch this club play the next couple months."
While the Mariners could lose those key veterans without any return, Zduriencik says there is a benefit to keep them for the final two months.
"When you let a guy leave, it's harder to get a guy back," he said. "Once you break your marriage up and you want to go back and ask that player to come back, it's much harder to do. He probably feels somewhat betrayed. Now you have to start all over again.
"Having these guys here -- certainly they have the right to walk -- but we also have the first right to re-sign them if we choose," he said. "And I think that's important to a player, especially if they like Seattle. If they are saying, 'I'd like to be part of this thing going forward. I like what's going on. It would be great.' Who knows, we may have the inside track on some of these players back here. That was a little bit of the thinking as well."
In that vein, Zduriencik said he's had communication already with some of the pending free agents.
"I think some of the players understand how we feel about them," he said. "I've had indirect conversations with them. Some I've had direct, quite frankly. But I do think as we move forward from now til the end of the year, that will accelerate as we get closer to the end."
Acting manager Robby Thompson was pleased to see the club kept together.
"We weren't going to just give guys away for some A-ball prospect or what have you," Thompson said. "We're good with where we're at. We did get Michael Morse back [from the disabled list Tuesday] and we'll see if he can't get back in the flow of things. Soon hopefully we'll get Stephen Pryor back and following that maybe Franklin Gutierrez. Those are the kinds of guys that will add back to our club without losing a Morales or even an Ibanez or a Morse."
Along with outfield, Morse will see time at first
BOSTON -- Michael Morse was in the lineup for a second straight day Wednesday as Mariners acting manager Robby Thompson continued working him back from a five-week stint on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps, but this time he was playing first base instead of right field.
Morse has played primarily outfield this year, with Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales getting the bulk of time at first. But he's played first a lot in his career and will see time there sporadically going forward.
"It's taking it easy on the legs. And you're looking at matchups," Thompson said after sitting Smoak on Wednesday. "We've got to get him in there. In these six games [on the current road trip], we're looking to get him in four of them. I think that's fair to him as far as with his leg and easing him back in.
"We'll see how he does tonight and how he comes out of it. He'll move back around and play right field and maybe DH a little. We're going to have to juggle things a little bit, having him back. We have other guys, too. Obviously, Smoaky is our best first baseman and probably one of the best in the league defensively. So we have to keep an eye on that and keep everybody fresh, yet keep them getting their at-bats."
Morse said he felt fine physically in his first game back, though he struck out three times in an 0-for-4 night.
"Now I just need to put the bat on the ball," he said.
Andino dealt to Pirates in Minor League deal
BOSTON -- Veteran infielder Robert Andino was traded by the Mariners to the Pirates on Wednesday in a Minor League deal for a player to be named or cash.
Andino, 29, was playing for the Mariners' Triple-A Tacoma club after being acquired from the Orioles last offseason for outfielder Trayvon Robinson.
Andino was batting .229 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 44 games for Tacoma after being outrighted by the Mariners on May 27. He began the season with Seattle and hit .184 in 29 games before being designated for assignment on May 24.
Andino has eight seasons of Major League experience with the Marlins and Orioles. The 2002 second-round Draft pick started at second base for Baltimore for much of the 2011 and '12 seasons and is a career .232 hitter in 468 games.
• Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker suffered his first loss since being promoted to Triple-A Tacoma, dropping a 4-1 decision to Omaha on Tuesday. Walker gave up four runs on nine hits in six innings, with two walks and four strikeouts. He's 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six starts at Tacoma.
• First baseman Jesus Montero hit a solo home run for Tacoma on Tuesday, his first in 14 games for the Rainiers. He's batting .236. Right fielder Franklin Gutierrez went 0-for-4 and is batting .218.
• When Nick Franklin doubled in the first inning of Tuesday's 8-2 loss, it was his 23rd extra-base hit in 53 games. The only Mariners with more extra-base hits in the first 53 games of their career were Alvin Davis (27 in 1984) and Jose Cruz Jr. (25 in '97).