ARLINGTON -- Faced with the necessity of a roster move to activate Sunday's starter, Erasmo Ramirez, the Mariners decided the best bet was to send down an outfielder. At least based on recent performance, Ichiro Suzuki would have seemed the odd man out -- but the future Hall of Famer is staying, at least for now, and Guillermo Heredia is headed to Triple-A Tacoma.
Heredia has a slash line of .310/.417/.552 in 29 at-bats this season, with a double, two homers and four RBIs. Prior to Sunday, Ichiro was at .212/.212/.212 with seven hits, all singles, in 33 at-bats -- but he did reach base four times, with two infield singles and two walks, in the Mariners' 7-4 loss to the Rangers.
One reason Ichiro stayed instead of Heredia is Ichiro is left-handed, manager Scott Servais said before Sunday's game. The other factor, Servais said, is that they didn't feel comfortable sending down a reliever from their recently taxed bullpen.
"Based on where that's gone the last couple days with our starting pitching and how much we've relied on the bullpen, that really wasn't an option," Servais said. "After that, looking at the upcoming schedule really did play into it. We have seven consecutive right-handed starters after today.
"Heredia has done a nice job for us. He certainly has got a role with us. Our whole group thought playing time-wise, over the next week … the rest of the road trip is right-handed starters, so that's where it went. Heredia will be back with us, he's a good player, we love the way he plays and how he goes about it. Again, it's about managing all the pieces, and that's the decision that we made."
So Ichiro, who started in right field Sunday, will be the fourth outfielder in Chicago and Cleveland. Servais acknowledged that the 44-year-old, one of the most accomplished players ever to wear a Mariners uniform, has not made massive contributions to the club thus far this season.
"Ichi's had some days that have been more productive than others," Servais said. "I think when he's come in, he's given us what we thought we were going to get in the sense of he puts the bat on the ball. He's made a couple decent plays in the outfield and a couple others, he didn't great jumps on. But I love having him around. I think he's been a very good influence in our clubhouse and what he does there, and like I said, we'll see how this plays out over the next week, 10 days or so."
Heredia and Ichiro had similar performances at the plate last season. Heredia played in 123 games last year for the Mariners, batting .249 with a .652 OPS. Ichiro played in 136 games for the Marlins, posting a .255 average and a .649 OPS.
On Earth Day, Mariners lead the league in eco-efforts
Major League Baseball joined in on the Earth Day celebrations Sunday, and the Mariners are one of the league's leaders in sustainability efforts. Last year, they won the inaugural "Green Glove" award presented by MLB to the eco-friendliest club.
Among Seattle's environmentally conscious efforts are the installation of LED field lighting at Safeco Field; the league's best recycling practices with 96 percent of Safeco Field's waste diverted from landfills; a public-transit partnership with Sound Transit to provide free access to fans heading to the ballpark; solar power at the stadium; and club-operated gardens that are used to source food for Safeco concessions.
Also, Mariners front-office employees have been celebrating Earth Day throughout the entire month of April, with volunteer opportunities at urban farms and non-profit organizations.
Gordon out with minor foot issue
In Sunday's series finale, Servais kept center fielder Dee Gordon, who had a sore foot, out of the starting lineup but said Gordon would be available as a substitute later in the game if necessary.
Gordon had a key double in Saturday's win and is hitting .325 with nine stolen bases. He had started every game this season prior to Sunday.
"It is really hard to take him out," Servais said. "I love having his energy and the pressure he puts on the other team … it's more precautionary."