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Originally published Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 7:04 PM

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Young players need veterans to ease the pressure

Eric Wedge will make sure veterans get plenty of chances to play.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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DETROIT — Mariners manager Eric Wedge admits it has been a balancing act trying to get veteran hitters going while finding playing time for younger players.

But Wedge said the thing that will hamper young development most is if a team takes away all signs of veteran presence. In that case, he added, young players will simply try too hard to make up for the lack of veterans around them at a time when they simply aren't ready for that burden.

"It will get in the way of their production," Wedge said. "It will get in the way of their development, literally. It will take them longer to get there if we don't have that. And I know that for a fact."

Wedge made his comments before the game Thursday, partly explaining why he was sitting Kyle Seager a second consecutive day so he could play Alex Liddi at third base. There were other options Wedge had for creating space for Liddi — including not using the slumping Chone Figgins or Miguel Olivo — but the manager wants to give his veteran hitters "space" to get going offensively.

"The space for the veterans is not endless," he said. "I can tell you that much."

But that said, he added that it's still early. And that the team's younger players will be better off in the long run with Figgins and Olivo playing well.

"We're all human beings," he said. "That's just the human factor. That's what I think a lot of people fail to understand — that these guys aren't robots. These guys are human beings with hearts and brains and something else too. So, you've got to balance all that."

NOTES

• Olivo's solo home run in the fourth inning Thursday was his seventh in the past 12 contests he's played at Comerica Park. A three-run homer by Justin Smoak in the first inning was his fifth in seven games at this ballpark.

• Liddi dribbled an infield single up the third-base line in the fourth inning for his sixth hit of the three-game series.

• Smoak's home run snapped an 0-for-15 batting slump for him.

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @gbakermariners

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