Turns out it wasn’t the play of their younger players that finally prompted the Seattle Mariners to call up Mike Carp.
The player previously deemed most likely to go once Carp was called up from Class AAA, left-handed-hitting outfielder Carlos Peguero, collected two more singles Tuesday night in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. Instead, little-used right-handed-hitter Mike Wilson was sent to Tacoma after a dispiriting defeat in which manager Eric Wedge appeared to reach his boiling point with some struggling veteran hitters.
“We’ve got some of these veteran offensive players that we need to be doing better,” Wedge said. “People that we’re counting on, that we need to be doing better. It’s as simple as that.
“We’ve got a lot of kids up here, too, but it’s a whole different situation. But the veterans, we’re damned near 2 1/2 months into the season and we’ve got guys that need to be doing better.”
Moments after Wedge’s comments — and after the media had cleared the clubhouse for the night — the Mariners announced the promotion of Carp. The 24-year-old outfielder, the Pacific Coast League’s most recent Player of the Week, hit .348 with 18 home runs for Tacoma with a 22-game hitting streak that ended Tuesday. He flied out in his only at-bat for the Rainiers at Tucson before being removed in mid-game.
It’s not clear where the left-handed hitter will play immediately, though there are ample choices. Left field has been a problem much of the season, though Peguero has started hitting after it looked late last week like he’d be the one demoted.
Another possibility is at designated hitter, where Jack Cust has tailed off lately. Carp also plays first base, Justin Smoak’s position. Smoak has struggled at times since being moved up to the No. 3 spot in the order after the release of Milton Bradley.
Smoak came up short a couple of times on Tuesday as the Mariners’ streak of six consecutive series wins was snapped in front of 21,337 at U.S. Cellular Field. Felix Hernandez gave up a solo homer to Paul Konerko in the second inning, then a two-run triple to Omar Vizquel and a two-run homer to Carlos Quentin in the third to fall in a 5-0 hole.
The Mariners mustered a lone run in the fourth, when Adam Kennedy scored from third on a sacrifice fly by Miguel Olivo off White Sox starter Phil Humber.
Kennedy said the team shouldn’t panic because of what is essentially a two-game rut after Seattle won seven consecutive series to fight back into the American League West race.
“We’ll try not to let a couple of nights ruin what we’ve been doing here and let it carry over,” Kennedy said. “We need to regroup and come ready to play. We’re just not sharp and for our offense to be consistent, we all need to be sharp. And we just haven’t been the last couple of nights.”
Wedge didn’t single out any veterans. But Ichiro has been in an awful slump and went hitless again, grounding out with two on in the seventh to end Seattle’s last real hope.
Chone Figgins singled in the seventh — just his third hit in the last 40 at-bats. But he also committed a two-out throwing error in the bottom of the inning.
Hernandez was upset with himself over a changeup he left square in the center of Vizquel’s barrel. And with a sinker that kept running back over the middle of the plate to Quentin.
But he agreed with Kennedy that it’s not time to panic. “It’s only two games,” Hernandez said. “We’ve got a lot of time left and we’ve got to keep playing. Playing the way we have the last two weeks.”
The team’s offensive woes — especially near the top of the order — have become an ongoing concern.
Wedge said he expects all of his players, especially the veterans, to recognize their problems with how they approached at-bats in this game and take steps to correct them.
“They’ve got to recognize it. It’s not good enough that I recognize it. They sure as hell should recognize it,” Wedge said.
“This should be a gut check for them tonight because this isn’t the way we play and this isn’t the way we’re going to play.”
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