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Wells gets first crack at leading off

Wells gets first crack at leading off

ST. PETERSBURG -- With Dustin Ackley getting the day off Sunday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge gave Casper Wells his first start of the year in the leadoff role for the series finale with the Rays.

Wells became the seventh leadoff hitter Wedge has used this season since shifting Ichiro Suzuki out of that role in Spring Training. Ichiro moved back to leadoff for a brief time but now is entrenched in the No. 2 spot.

Wells led off for the Tigers twice last season before getting traded to Seattle and hit a leadoff home run off Ted Lilly of the Dodgers on June 22, 2011.

With the Rays starting left-hander Matt Moore, Wedge moved most of his available right-handed hitting options up in the lineup.

"Wells has been putting up competitive at-bats," Wedge said. "Obviously it's been a tough couple days offensively, so we'll see if that triggers anything."

Ichiro remained in the No. 2 spot -- and in right field -- despite throwing mistakes in back-to-back games. He overthrew the cutoff man when the Rays scored their winning run in the 14th inning Friday, then received his first error of the season Saturday by throwing wide of Kyle Seager at third and allowing Tampa's lone run to score in a 2-1 win.

"Yesterday he shouldn't have made the throw," Wedge said. "There was no play there. It was just an instance of him trying to do too much. The day before it was a strong throw, an aggressive throw, but he just overthrew Ackley. The first one is a fundamental error. The second one is a mental error. He's got to know. People make mistakes. He's a smart player."