By Bob Dutton The News Triune
SEATTLE — LoMo is back in SoDo.
The Mariners activated first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison from his rehab assignment prior to Wednesday’s game against the Yankees after placing first baseman Justin Smoak on the disabled list.
“The swing feels good,” said Morrison, who spent the maximum 20 days at Triple-A Tacoma while recovering from a strained right hamstring.
“The bats feel better. All of that stuff feels great. I’m ready to go and help the team in any way I can. Any other cliches you need?”
Yep, Morrison’s sardonic humor is churning at peak level. He went immediately into the lineup at first base. He batted .308 (20-for-65) for the Rainiers with three homers and eight RBIs in 18 games.
“I guess he swung OK,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “To be honest with you, I don’t give a (spit) about Tacoma. I’m worried about what he does here. We’ll see.”
Morrison was 3-for-20 in eight games for the Mariners before suffering the injury prior to the April 14 game at Texas. He was hitless in four at-bats in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Yankees.
McClendon indicated the move stemmed, in part, from Smoak’s slow response to treatment for a strained left quadriceps muscle. Smoak has started just one game since June 3.
“A snail’s pace,” McClendon said. “It’s going to get better, but he’s been out for five days, and he’s probably going to be out another four or five days. That’s (at least) nine days without playing.
“It just didn’t make any sense (to keep him active).”
Smoak believes he is close to full recovery.
“If you’d give it another day or two,” he said, “it’d be all right. Today would have been five days without (starting)…It’s just one of those things where you’ve got to play through to get it better.”
The Mariners were only able to backdate the injury to Monday because he played Sunday as a defensive replacement at first base. That means he can’t return until June 25.
“He’s going to continue to rehab here,” McClendon said. “Hopefully, sometime next week, we’ll get him out (on a rehab assignment) and get him some at-bats. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go when we get back off the road.”
Smoak is mired in a 7-for-60 slump over his last 20 games since May 20 and has only one homer and two RBIs in that span. Overall, he is batting .208 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 63 games.
Saunders also to DL
Outfielder Michael Saunders is also heading to the disabled list because of continuing soreness in his right shoulder. The Mariners announced the move after Wednesday’s game.
A move to replace Saunders on the roster will be announced Thursday, although there appears to be no obvious candidate.
If the Mariners opt for someone already on the 40-man roster, possibilities include outfielder Abraham Almonte, infielder Nick Franklin and first baseman Jesus Montero.
The Mariners could also promote veteran outfielder/first baseman Xavier Nady, whom they recently signed to a minor-league deal, or shortstop Chris Taylor, who has played just two games since returning from a broken finger.
Adding Nady or Taylor would require a corresponding move to clear space of the 40-man roster.
Saunders suffered the injury — specifically, inflammation in the AC joint — on a swing in last Friday’s game at Tampa Bay. He missed the remaining three games against the Rays but played Tuesday against the Yankees.
The Mariners played their 65th game Wednesday…and used their 59th different lineup, which prompted a question for McClendon: Does he enjoy the challenge of putting together different lineups?
“No, I don’t,” he responded. “I asked (Ken) Griffey, Edgar (Martinez) and (Jay) Buhner to come out of retirement. They said no.
“The fact is players don’t play every day anymore. You have to have different players in there, and you have to have match-ups…That’s just the way it is.
“But it gives you guys a lot to talk about. So it’s very interesting.”
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen matched a career-high by pitching three innings after replacing starter Chris Young. Wilhelmsen did not allow a run and lowered his ERA to 2.67…The Mariners have lost back-to-back games for the first time since May 29-30…First baseman/outfielder Corey Hart has progressed to taking some light work in the batting cages in his recovery from a strained left hamstring.…Mike Zunino has been hit seven times by pitches, which matches Kyle Seager’s club-leading total for 2013…Willie Bloomquist played in his 1,000th career game in Tuesday’s series opener.
The Mariners traded Double-A Jackson catcher Manny Pina to Detroit for a player to be named later and transferred outfielder Julio Morban to the Generals from extended spring training.
Morban was a Southern League All-Star in 2013 when he batted .295 at Jackson with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 86 games. He suffered a broken right shinbone (tibula) that ended his season on Aug. 21.
Baseball America cited Morban, 22, as the Mariners’ No. 11 prospect prior to the season. He opened the season at Triple-A Tacoma and went 5-for-20 before being assigned to extended spring training.
Pina, 26, batted .279 in 17 games for Jackson and was assigned by the Tigers to Triple-A Toledo.
It was one year ago Thursday — June 12, 2013 — that catcher Mike Zunino made his big-league debut by going 1-for-4 in a 6-1 loss to Houston at Safeco Field.
Zunino’s first career hit was a line-drive single to center in the fourth inning against Jordan Lyles. Zunino was the only non-pitcher from the 2012 draft class to play last season in the majors.
As for the game … Jeremy Bonderman pitched eight shutout innings, but the Astros scored six runs in the ninth against Tom Wilhelmsen, Yoervis Medina and Charlie Furbush.