SEATTLE -- Mariners manager Eric Wedge continues riding the hot bat of Raul Ibanez, who has started 37 of the last 38 games while producing one of the best seasons for a player his age.
Ibanez, 41, signed with the Mariners as a projected platoon candidate in left field, but he instead has emerged as an everyday player while hitting 22 home runs and 51 RBIs going into Thursday's series finale with the Red Sox.
"We are playing him a lot," Wedge said. "I've talked to him. I gave him a day off in Cincinnati and I've talked to him quite a bit. Not that he's ever going to tell me he's not able to go. But I just watch the way he plays, the way he runs, the way he moves. His level of awareness and being alert, the quick twitch, it's all there. I just don't see him slowing down, so how do you not play him?"
Wedge showed faith in Ibanez in April when the veteran got off to a slow start, hitting .158 with two home runs and five RBIs the first month. That patience paid off, even when many were assuming Ibanez was done.
"First of all, you trust him to no end. He's had stretches before, but always come out of it," Wedge said. "The bat speed was there, the approach, the mindset. You see him start to figure it out in BP and you know it's going to happen, so you just have to keep playing him.
"People said don't play him against left-handers," said Wedge. "Well, I feel like this guy can get big hits against left-handers and guess what? He has. He still has presence against left-handers, which helps the other guys. You have to stick with guys. If you react off everybody else, you're going to have guys in and out of here daily. You have to have a little faith every now and again. But you have to have reasons and indicators to have that and I had plenty of those."
Making season debut, Ramirez roughed up
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez gave up a career-high seven runs over 4 2/3 frames in his first start back with the Mariners on Thursday after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma prior to the game.
The 23-year-old Nicaraguan made his season debut in the 8-7, 10-inning loss to the Red Sox, filling the spot created when the club designated veteran Jeremy Bonderman for assignment on Monday.
"I was very happy [to be back]," said Ramirez, who received a no-decision. "I started the season on the DL and nothing happened for me, but being able to pitch and feel good is the best feeling I can have right now. I try to do my best. I don't like to lose, but it's part of the game. I just need to work on my mistakes and try to be better the next time."
Right-handed reliever Carter Capps was optioned to Tacoma to make room on the 25-man roster.
Ramirez missed the first two months with a sore elbow that cropped up late in Spring Training, but he was 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in seven starts since returning on June 2.
Ramirez went 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 16 games with Seattle last year as a rookie. He began the year in the bullpen, then rejoined the team in midseason and was 1-3 with a 3.64 ERA in eight starts before going on the disabled list with a right elbow strain.
The youngster was competing for a starting job this spring when the elbow flared up again and he didn't throw at all for about six weeks while letting that issue heal.
"It was just setbacks with the arm and whatnot, and that's just derailed him time-wise," manager Eric Wedge said. "But for the most part, when he's been pitching, he's done a nice job. He's one of the guys we were counting on this year at some point in time, whether it be early -- which we thought it would be -- or where we are right now."
Ramirez signed with Seattle as an international free agent in 2007 and is one of only a handful of players from Nicaragua in the Major Leagues.
Capps, 22, is regarded as one of the Mariners' promising power arms in the bullpen, but he's struggled recently and is 2-2 with a 6.37 ERA in 35 1/3 innings over 33 appearances.
Capps has given up 14 runs in 7 1/3 innings (17.18 ERA) on 16 hits and five walks over his last seven appearances. Wedge noted that the youngster had only 69 innings of Minor League experience before getting called up last year and is still learning his craft.
"This guy got here so quick and I think he learned a great deal," Wedge said. "There are a couple things mechanically we want him to work on. It's tough to make adjustments and compete up here at the same time for a young player. Go down, get himself righted, catch his breath a little, pitch some down there.
"He's going to be part of this thing. He's just too big and has too much physical strength and arm speed and velocity [to not succeed]. He's still trying to put that slider or cutter where he wants and have enough confidence in his changeup. He just needs to go down and do that."
Sore right knee keeps Franklin out of lineup
SEATTLE -- Mariners rookie second baseman Nick Franklin was held out of Thursday's series finale against the Red Sox after a bothersome right knee situation continued to plague the 22-year-old.
Franklin was taken out in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game when the knee flared up, but manager Eric Wedge hopes he can be back in the lineup by Friday when Seattle opens a three-game set with the Angels.
"It just hasn't got any better," Franklin said. "It's been almost the same since we left Cincinnati. It just needs a little time to get better."
Franklin's problems began when he bunted a ball off his leg last Friday against the Reds. Franklin was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance the following day, but he started the ensuing four games before finally getting a rest Thursday.
"It just affected his quad yesterday," Wedge said. "It's still off his knee, but he was having trouble firing his quad yesterday. He's able to fire it today, so I'm hopeful he'll be ready tomorrow. He did it on a play up the middle yesterday, just reirritated it."
Franklin said he felt the knee on a wide throw from shortstop Brad Miller in the sixth, as well as after a fifth-inning strikeout.
"It was just the change of direction off the leg," he said. "And then the strikeout, one of the pitches I swung at, I really rotated on it. But just really the whole day, it's just hard to describe it, but that very last swing on that strikeout there was something not right.
"I'll take it day by day and hopefully it'll get better soon. When you're constantly thinking about how you want to walk, it's not really the ideal situation."
Franklin has hit .275 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in his first 40 Major League games, though he's batted just .216 in nine games in July.
• Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a home run in Thursday's game, his third streak of 10-plus games already this season. Only two other players in the Majors have had three or more streaks of 10-plus already, with four by the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera and three by Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury.
• Seager's 14th homer of the season gives the Mariners a run of 19 straight games with at least one homer, tying a club record set Sept. 7-27, 1999.
• The Mariners outrighted the contract of veteran pitcher Jeremy Bonderman to the Minor Leagues on Thursday, but he declined the assignment and elected free agency. Bonderman was designated for assignment on Monday after going 1-3 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts in his first Major League action since 2010. He is now free to sign with any club.