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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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June 2, 2008 5:04 PM

Guess who's back in the lineup?

Posted by Geoff Baker

sexson0602 009.jpg

There should be smiles galore out in blogland today. That's because Richie Sexson is back in the Mariners lineup, batting seventh. Not only that, he's apparently going to be there for a while. Mariners manager John McLaren said it was the plan all along to sit Sexson for several days while he worked on his swing in the batting cage beneath the stands. Sexson and hitting coach Jeff Pentland have apparently made some major corrections and the M's feel he's now ready to play.

Spoke to Pentland moments ago and he told me the changes involve getting Sexson to open his stance so he can see the ball better. He'd had a more open stance when the season began, but had been closing it more and more as his numbers went south. The change will see the stance even more open that it was to start the year. When you make a change like that, you have to do it over several days, which is why he hasn't been playing. Will this work? Who knows? A little late in the game, if you ask me.

Yes, yes, I can hear the squealing already. Yes, I understood the thrust of the argument some of you were making in regards to Sexson being a better hitter than Miguel Cairo. A better home run hitter, too. In a normal world under normal circumstances, I'd agree. But not when a guy has been sitting for almost a week and hadn't really hit a lick in the weeks leading up to that benching.

Sorry, you just can't ignore something like that. You can't have a guy like Sexson struggle all season, to the point where the fan base is howling for his release, sit his bat for five days, then throw him in there against a major league closer throwing 90-plus mph. That's the argument. It doesn't matter if one guy's OPS is slightly higher than the other's for the entire season. We're not talking a .900 OPS versus a .516. We're talking about Sexson's .690 versus Cairo's .516. By the way, in May, Cairo's OPS was .559 versus .567 for Sexson. So, almost no difference.

Except one guy had hits in his last five consecutive games while the other guy had been swinging in a cage since May 26 because his "home run" bat missed more balls than it connected on for five weeks straight. If you still want to argue, go ahead. I'm done. For me, we should be arguing about why the M's bench is so thin that McLaren's choice was between Cairo, Sexson and Wladimir Balentien (another guy who can't hit right now). That's a lose-lose-lose situation all around. By the way, Balentien will now be the next guy out for a while so that Pentland can work on the obvious holes in his bat.

Anyhow, Sexson is back in there. Now, some of you may ask -- and quite reasonably, I might add -- why Sexson is good enough to hit tonight, but wasn't to pinch-hit last night. Excellent question, so thank you in advance. This was put to McLaren today. Here's his answer:

"What I was thinking was, I wanted him with a fresh start,'' McLaren said. "He cleared his mind, he worked hard and tonight he's going to get that start. I understand, some people have told me there's been a lot of talk about why we didn't use him yesterday. I'm kind of glad. Maybe we're rallying around this guy a little bit. He needs that. And we need him.''

So, there you go. Congratulations. Apparently, the fan voice has been heard loud and clear. Um, maybe.

On a more serious note, congrats are in order for those of you continuing to read the blog, not to mention participate in the comments thread. We easily set another monthly record in May, despite a number of off-days and the team's collapse. The types of spirited discussions here may not be for some of you, but the rest of you are continuing to log in here. We are now 300 percent higher in terms of page views than we were last May -- making us the paper's most read blog. Those of you writing in on email telling me you read, but don't post, believe me, I know. I get the numbers daily. But thank you anyway.

Anyone out there who wants to stop posting, nobody is forcing you to stay. There are dozens of others who can take your place on a daily basis. I'd like all of you to stay, of course. But if you want to dish it out, you have to be able to take it. Otherwise, there's the cyber door.

The lineups:

ANGELS (34-24)

6 Maicer Izturis SS
47 Howie Kendrick 2B
16 Garret Anderson LF
49 Torii Hunter CF
21 Juan Rivera DH
24 Gary Matthews Jr. RF
35 Casey Kotchman 1B
39 Robb Quinlan 3B
5 Jeff Mathis C

54 Ervin Santana RHP


MARINERS (21-36)

51 Ichiro CF
4 Jose Lopez 2B
3 Jose Vidrp DH
28 Raul Ibanez LF
29 Adrian Beltre 3B
8 Jeremy Reed RF
44 Richie Sexson 1B
2 Kenji Johjima C
5 Yuniesky Betancourt SS

56 Jarrod Washburn LHP

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