The 2013 Seattle Mariners season has been, well, mediocre thus far. The team has underachieved and is in the midst of a six-game losing streak, including three walk-off losses in four days against the Cleveland Indians.
One of very few bright spots that came to light during the skid was the emergence of Raul Ibanez. The veteran outfielder slugged five home runs in as many days on the road trip and reminded the baseball world that he can hit.
Ibanez got off to a terrible start, hitting .158/.213/.298 in April, and was looking like he may be sent down to Tacoma when Franklin Gutierrez recovered from his injury.
But the month of May has been a complete 180 for Raul. He's batting .333/.366/.872 with six homers and 15 RBI, cementing his spot on the roster. Maybe it's a hot streak. Maybe he was fueled by returning to Yankee Stadium. Either way, he's earned a starting spot in the lineup.
Another guy who fills up the box score whenever he sees the field is Endy Chavez. Believe it or not, he has the highest batting average on the team at .289 and remains one of the only players with speed. He isn't going to wow you with the long ball, but he plays hard and is a defensive upgrade in the outfield.
The tricky part for Eric Wedge is, how can both of these guys see more playing time without benching an indispensable player?
Chavez could take Jason Bay's place in left field and Ibanez could be the DH over Justin Smoak, but Smoak is getting his season back on track and taking him out of the lineup would only slow down that process.
Wedge will have an even tougher decision to make when Gutierrez comes back. Who will be sent down or designated for assignment? Robert Andino is the logical choice, but he's the only backup infielder on the roster. Jason Bay is performing the worst of Seattle's five outfielders and should be moved to make room for Guti.
Wedge has no easy task in finding playing time for each one of his five outfielders, each of whom deserve to play. Maybe the answer will come in the form of a trade for a middle infielder or pitcher, both positions Seattle is in need of.
All stats via espn.com.