BOSTON — Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon has a simple guideline for adding players for the September stretch drive: “Guys who can help you win games.”
Rules permit rosters to expand from 25 players to 40 players after Sept. 1.
“I don’t think you venture out too much into bringing up young guys just to get them experience,” McClendon said prior to Sunday’s 8-6 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“There isn’t going to be any experience to get. You’re playing meaningful games. You want your veteran guys out there performing in high-level, high-pressure games.”
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It’s likely the Mariners will activate veterans Michael Saunders and Corey Hart from the disabled list — although Saunders was recalled Saturday from his rehab assignment because of a viral infection.
Hart started his rehab assignment Saturday at Tacoma in his recovery from a bruised right knee. It seems likely, at this point, that Hart will remain with the Rainiers through the Sept. 1 end of their season.
The Mariners previously recalled outfielder James Jones from Tacoma to serve as a speed threat. He seems likely to return in the same capacity.
Similarly, the Mariners are likely to recall first baseman Justin Smoak because he represents a defensive upgrade over Logan Morrison and Kendrys Morales.
Outfielder Stefen Romero spent much of the season on the big-league roster and looms as a recall candidate because he’s been hot at Tacoma: .425 with seven homers and 21 RBI in 17 August games prior to Sunday.
Even contending clubs often add one or two pitchers, as a hedge to have extra arms available in blowout situations, and a third catcher.
The Mariners shuttled starter Erasmo Ramirez and lefty reliever Lucas Luetge between Tacoma and the big leagues for much of the season. Taijuan Walker is another possibility.
Adding a third catcher is tougher. Humberto Quintero is the type of veteran whom clubs prefer in that role, but he’s not currently on the 40-man roster — and the Mariners don’t have a vacancy.
That could be solved by shifting infielder Willie Bloomquist to the 60-day disabled list.
McClendon sees no value in promoting a young player simply to let them experience the atmosphere of a postseason chase.
“The only way you gain and it becomes valuable,” he said, “is if you’re competing. Just to sit and watch, I don’t see how that helps.”