By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Mariners’ clubhouse got at lot more crowded Monday when seven players arrived from Triple-A Tacoma under rules that permit rosters to expand from 25 players to 40 players in September.
The new arrivals:
First baseman/outfielder Corey Hart was activated from the disabled list. First baseman Justin Smoak, outfielder Stefen Romero, right-hander Taijuan Walker and lefty reliever Lucas Luetge were recalled from Tacoma.
The Mariners also selected the contracts of catcher Humberto Quintero and righty reliever Carson Smith from Tacoma.
Lefty James Paxton and right-hander Erasmo Ramirez are expected to be return prior to Tuesday’s game because they must wait for the Rainiers’ season to end to circumvent the 10-day waiting period on recalls.
The Mariners cleared space for Quintero and Smith on their 40-man roster by placing first baseman/DH Jesus Montero on the suspended list and shifting utilityman Willie Bloomquist to the 60-day disabled list.
“I think all of them bring something to the table,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Hopefully, they’ll get opportunities to win games.”
That happened Sunday when outfielder James Jones, recalled Friday in a pre-September shuffle, replaced Kendrys Morales as a pinch-runner in the eighth inning against Washington.
Jones stole two bases and scored on a two-out hit by Endy Chavez in a 5-3 victory that snapped a three-game skid and enabled the Mariners to salvage two victories on a disappointing six-game homestand.
The Mariners, once Paxton and Ramirez return, will be carrying 17 pitchers. With Paxton reclaiming his spot in the rotation — he will start Tuesday night against the A’s — that means a 12-man bullpen.
McClendon said Walker and Ramirez will shift to bullpen roles but is basically challenging Walker to pitch his way into the rotation.
“Right now,” McClendon said, “(Walker) is probably going to be more of a long man. Hopefully, he’ll get to the point where he’s so dominating that he’s in the rotation.
“We’ll see. I had a talk with him today, and that’s totally up to him. We’ve all heard the hype. We know he’s a very talented individual. I want to see it on the field.”
Walker responded Monday by limiting Oakland to one run in six innings after the A’s knocked out Chris Young in a five-run first inning.
“He did a nice job,” McClendon said. “He threw the ball pretty darn good.”
McClendon envisions Smith as an match-up option against right-handed hitters early in games.
He’s a big powerful arm,” McClendon said. “I don’t think right-handers have much fun off of him.”
Smith made his major-league debut by retiring Josh Donaldson, right-handed hitter, on a grounder to second base for the final out in the eighth inning.
Saunders to Arizona
Outfielder Michael Saunders is heading to the organization’s year-round complex in Peoria, Arizona in an effort to regain his strength after losing 12 pounds due to a viral infection.
“Get some at-bats in,” McClendon said. “Get some time in. We’ll see what happens.”
Saunders was on a rehab assignment at Tacoma for a strained left oblique, suffered July 10, when he contracted the infection. He took part in some early drills last week at Safeco Field before departing for Arizona.
Saunders batted .276 with six homers and 28 RBIs in 65 games prior to his oblique injury. He was 9-for-35 in 10 games at Tacoma before contracting the viral infection.
The decision to place Montero on the suspended list is a consequence of what the organization is terming “a verbal altercation with a Mariners scout at a Northwest League game.”
The incident occurred Aug. 28 while Montero was on a rehab assignment at Short-A Everett for a game at Boise. The “altercation” involved scout Butch Baccala, who has been pulled from his road duties by the club.
General manager Jack Zduriencik announced last Friday that Montero would not play again this season but instead focus on treatment for off-field issues.
“Our intent is to address Jesus’ issues,” Zduriencik said at the time. “There is a history here of some things that have happened, and we’re very disappointed in it.”
Chris Young’s exit after two-thirds of an inning was shortest of the season by a Mariners’ starting pitcher. The previous shortest was Erasmo Ramirez, who lasted just two innings on April 17 in an 8-6 loss at Texas…The last Mariners starter to last just two-thirds of an inning was Brandon Maurer on April 9, 2013 in a 16-9 loss to Houston at Safeco Field…The last Mariners starter to last less than two-thirds of an inning was Jeff Weaver, who went just one-third of an inning on April 28, 2007 in an 8-3 loss to Kansas City at Safeco…It was also the shortest start of Young’s career. He last one inning on two previous occasions: Aug. 20, 2006 for San Diego against Arizona; and Sept. 7, 2005 for Texas at Minnesota…The A’s, prior to the game, reinstated shortstop Jed Lowrie from the disabled list; recalled right-hander pitcher Fernando Rodriguez and outfielder Billy Burns from Triple-A Sacramento; and selected the contract of catcher Bryan Anderson from Sacramento.
While postseason rosters are limited to 25 players, every player recalled/added Monday will be eligible for consideration. So, too, will Paxton and Ramirez once they are recalled prior to Tuesday’s game against the A’s.
Any player who is on a club’s 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 — not just the 25-man active big-league roster — is eligible for the postseason roster.
Further, clubs can replace injured players on their 40-man roster, who are deemed not able to participate in postseason, with any player who is in the organization as of Aug. 31.
That provides the Mariners with three extra spots because of injuries to utilityman Willie Bloomquist and minor-league pitchers Danny Hultzen and Anthony Fernandez.
The only catch is any added to replace an injured player must be placed on the 40-man roster. That would require a roster move because the Mariners currently have no openings.
Quintero and Smith have already been added to the 40-man roster.
Reliever Ronald Dominguez of the Peoria Mariners was picked to the 14-member Arizona Rookie League all-star team.
Dominguez, 20, was 5-1 with an 0.43 ERA in 42 1/3 innings over 17 appearances. He allowed just 21 hits while striking out 36.
The Mariners signed Dominguez, a Dominican native, in 2011 as a non-drafted free agent. He pitched the three previous seasons for the Mariners’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League.
It was 18 years ago Monday — Sept. 1, 1996 — that Alex Rodriguez borrowed a bat from Ken Griffey Jr. and hit a three-run homer that boosted the Mariners to a 5-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles at the Kingdome.
Rodriguez borrowed Griffey’s bat in the fifth inning after his own bat was confiscated by the umpires at the request of Orioles manager Davey Johnson.
The move was in apparent retaliation for Mariners manager Lou Piniella asking that Bobby Bonilla’s bat be confiscated earlier in the game. Both bats were later cleared upon examination.
The Mariners and A’s continue their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at the O.co Coliseum.
Left-hander James Paxton (4-1 with a 1.83 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to oppose Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray (13-7, 3.03). Root Sports will televise the game.
The series concludes at 12:35 p.m. Wednesday before the Mariners fly to Texas for four weekend games against the Rangers.