NEW YORK -- In the first two games after manager Eric Wedge bumped Michael Morse from the cleanup spot down to No. 5 in the lineup, the Mariners outfielder went 5-for-8 with a pair of doubles to raise his batting average from .220 to .244.
Morse, who was again in the No. 5 spot for Wednesday night's game against the Yankees, said he's simply taking a better approach at the plate, which is one of the things Wedge hoped would come from letting Morse and Kendrys Morales know the entire offense didn't rest on their shoulders.
"I really haven't changed anything," Morse said. "The only thing I'm doing different is I'm trying not to swing at balls in the dirt. That's basically it. I'm trying to get a good pitch to hit and trying not to do too much."
Morse had a season-high three hits on Tuesday against the Yankees and hit the ball hard in most of his at-bats, something that had been missing recently despite his team-leading nine home runs.
Morse said he's all for the change in the batting order and sees the reasoning behind it.
"I think it puts some more power up at the top," Morse said. "Guys like Jason Bay and [Dustin] Ackley are real good No. 2 hitters, and [Kyle] Seager is a great No. 3 hitter. And Morales is a great No. 4 hitter, so I don't mind it. I love hitting fifth. I'd love hitting seventh. I think it's great. Whatever helps to win games, I'm for it."
Wedge doesn't think the spot in the order matters nearly as much as a player's approach at the plate.
"I think once he gets going, it doesn't really matter where he hits," Wedge said. "We want him in the middle with Kendrys someplace, whether it's 3-4 or 4-5. He's been a little better the last couple days, so there's no reason to mess with it."
Felix improved a day after tweaking back
NEW YORK -- Mariners ace Felix Hernandez showed up at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon feeling fine after being taken out of Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Yankees following the sixth inning due to a tight back.
Hernandez tweaked his back while fielding a ground ball and turning and firing to second base in the sixth. He stayed in for the rest of that inning but didn't return for the seventh with a 3-1 lead and having thrown 97 pitches.
Manager Eric Wedge said he definitely would have kept Hernandez in for another inning if the back issue hadn't cropped up. But Wedge indicated on Wednesday that things were looking fine a day later.
"He's good," Wedge said. "He said it was pretty sore this morning, but he feels good, and [trainer Rick Griffin] felt he got him in a good place after the game last night. He's feeling good today, so we should be fine."
Will there be any changes to Hernandez's preparation this week before his next scheduled start, on Sunday in Cleveland?
"I don't think so," Wedge said. "I think we're OK."
Hernandez is 5-2 with an American League-leading 1.53 ERA after nine starts.
Inviting Bronx porch brings out best in Ibanez
NEW YORK -- On Wednesday, Raul Ibanez was in the Mariners' starting lineup against the Yankees for the second time in as many days, and for good reason.
Ibanez, 40, went 2-for-4 with a home run in Tuesday's 4-3 loss and entered Wednesday hitting .280 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in 75 games at the new Yankee Stadium. The slugging veteran added to those totals by hitting a grand slam to right-center field in the first inning and a two-run homer to left in the fifth.
When postseason games are included, Ibanez has hit 22 home runs in his last 241 at-bats at the Bronx.
How hot is Ibanez in the Big Apple? In his last 11 games at Yankee Stadium, he's hit nine homers and recorded 20 RBIs.
"It's nice for a left-handed hitter," Ibanez acknowledged after lacing his two-run homer into the inviting right-field seats in the sixth inning on Tuesday. "It's short with a low wall, so it's definitely nice for a left-handed hitter."
With righty on the hill, Ackley back in lineup
NEW YORK -- After resting three straight days, including Monday's off-day, second baseman Dustin Ackley was back in the Mariners' starting lineup against the Yankees on Wednesday, shifted back up to No. 2 by manager Eric Wedge.
Wedge sat Ackley against two lefties -- Tommy Milone of the A's on Sunday and CC Sabathia of the Yankees on Tuesday -- but had him back in against right-hander Phil Hughes on Wednesday.
Ackley said he spent the time as he normally would, working in the batting cage and staying prepared. He drew a walk in a pinch-hit appearance late in Tuesday's 4-3 loss, but he's eager for more.
"I feel ready," Ackley said. "I felt ready every day, so we'll see what happens."
Ackley has been dealing with a sore left ankle, left over from his offseason bone spur surgery, but he said the time off didn't affect his soreness.
"It feels the same, no matter what," Ackley said. "I think it actually feels better when I'm playing than when I'm not because you get the adrenaline flowing. The days I feel it the most are the ones I don't play, so it doesn't matter to me. I'm ready to go every day -- whatever they want me to do."
Wedge said there was nothing more to Ackley's time off than trying to get the best matchups against a couple of left-handed pitchers. Now he's putting the second baseman into the No. 2 spot in the order, which was juggled on Sunday when Kyle Seager -- previously hitting second -- was dropped to the No. 3 spot.
"We've got a right-hander on the mound, so I wanted to keep Seager in the three-hole and I needed to plug somebody in the two-hole," Wedge said. "Ack's been up there more than anybody. He seemed like the best candidate. We'll let those three lefties go up there and see if they can get us started."
• Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez ran well in a workout on Wednesday at Safeco Field and could be ready to begin an injury rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma as early as Thursday or Friday, according to Wedge. Gutierrez is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.
• Right-handed reliever Josh Kinney, who is eligible to come off the 60-day DL on May 30, will make his first rehab appearance on Friday for Tacoma, Wedge said. Kinney sustained a stress reaction in his ribs during Spring Training and has been throwing at extended spring camp in Arizona over the past few weeks.
• Blake Beavan picked up his first win for Tacoma on Tuesday after throwing six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander gave up six hits while walking one and striking out four in a 4-2 win at New Orleans. He's 1-2 with a 4.86 ERA in three starts since being sent down.
• Taijuan Walker -- the Mariners' No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com -- allowed just four hits and one earned run in seven innings on Tuesday but took a no-decision as Double-A Jackson fell to Tennessee, 3-2. Walker struck out six and walked one. He's 3-3 with a 2.09 ERA in eight starts this season.
• When Charlie Furbush let a 3-1 lead get away on Tuesday night, it was just the second blown save by the Mariners this season. The Rangers, who have yet to blow a save this season, are the only team in the Majors with fewer than two blown opportunities.