Mariners slow Suzuki's return

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners are slowing Ichiro Suzuki's return from tightness in his left calf.

Manager Don Wakamatsu said Wednesday the team has told its antsy, nine-time All-Star to do less and rest.

"He says he's ready to go -- but he said he was ready to go in January," Wakamatsu said after keeping Suzuki was out of the lineup for the third consecutive game against Oakland.

After saying earlier this week his Gold Glove outfielder could return Wednesday, then perhaps on Thursday against Kansas City, Wakamatsu said: "We're going to back off on that a bit and not really put a timetable on it."

Suzuki, who needs 16 hits to become the first major leaguer with nine consecutive 200-hit seasons, did some indoor work for the second consecutive day. He stretched on the field with his team before batting practice, then went inside for more treatment.

Suzuki missed eight games at the beginning of the season, following a bleeding ulcer.

Seattle entered Wednesday night with an 8-2 record without their franchise cornerstone.

Wakamatsu says the injury is not severe enough, and Suzuki won't be out long enough, to warrant him going on the disabled list retroactive to Monday, the day after he last played.

"No, we haven't even considered that," the first-year manager said. "The big thing really is to make sure it's [healed]. We don't think it's that serious, but we want to make sure 100 percent."

Renowned for his elaborate pregame stretching and meticulous preparation each day, Suzuki has played in 1,396 games since his debut with Seattle in 2001, the most in the majors during that span.

He had been feeling his calf tighten for almost two weeks before he left Sunday's game in Cleveland at the start of the ninth inning. Wakamatsu noticed Suzuki wasn't sprinting at normal speed down to first on a groundball back to the mound in the eighth inning. He pulled Suzuki before the injury could get worse.

Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez again took Suzuki's leadoff spot on Wednesday. Gutierrez had been on base seven times in his first two starts for Suzuki this week. Recently acquired Bill Hall again replaced Suzuki in right field.