(Eds: Updates.) By TIM BOOTH AP Sports Writer Raul Ibanez is crushing homers at a rate better than Barry Bonds or Ted Williams did at age 41, Felix Hernandez has 10 victories at the All-Star break, more than any other time in his career, and young prospects Nick Franklin, Brad Miller and Mike Zunino have provided a much-needed spark for the Seattle clubhouse.
And still the Mariners arrived at the All-Star break nine games below .500 at 43-52.
The second half of the season that begins Friday in Houston will have a significant impact on the direction of the franchise. General manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge have contracts that expire at the end of the season, and whether the Mariners can build on recent momentum could affect whether one or both return in 2014.
The Mariners left spring training confident that a .500 record would be attainable this season and prove as a springboard for 2014. But injuries to Michael Morse, Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and Justin...