When the Mariners open their season, it won’t be Ichiro Suzuki at the top of the Mariners batting order for the first time since 2000.
Manager Eric Wedge announced Tuesday that he will move Suzuki from his normal leadoff spot down to No. 3 in the Mariners batting order. Wedge is planning to make Suzuki’s move permanent and he said he will figure out who is Seattle’s best option to take over in the leadoff role.
“I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this winter. … Bottom line, it’s for us to have the best lineup 1 through 9 out there,” Wedge said. “I want our lineup to be extended. I think our best opportunity is for Ichiro to be hitting third for us.”
It’ll be the first time in his career that Suzuki will be somewhere permanently other than the leadoff spot but, he’s coming off the worst year of his career in the U.S., hitting just .272. It was the first time he’s failed to hit at least .300.
The first option to replace Suzuki will most likely be former Angel’s leadoff hitter, Chone Figgins, although Wedge said he’s not set on his Nos. 1 and 2. Figgins has been terrible since coming over from the Los Angeles Angels. Figgins is coming off an injury-shortened 2011 season which saw him hit .188.
“I’m confident Figgins can get back to his old self as a leadoff hitter,” Wedge said. “That’s when he was the Figgins that produced, that got on base, that scored runs, that was a pain for opposing teams when he did lead off for Anaheim.”