By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners cleared roster space for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez by optioning lefty James Paxton to Triple-A Tacoma.
Ramirez started Wednesday’s game after being recalled from Tacoma.
The move regarding Paxton is little more than a clerical entry (although it will cost him a few days of service time).
Paxton isn’t scheduled to pitch until Tuesday in Oakland. Since Tacoma’s season ends Monday, he can be recalled in time to take his regular turn.
Major League rules permit rosters to expand from 25 players to 40 players on Sept. 1.
Similarly, the move does not affect Paxton’s postseason eligibility. Any player on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 is eligible for postseason.
Paxton improved to 4-1 and lowered his ERA to 1.83 by pitching 62/3 innings Tuesday in a 5-0 victory over Texas.
It’s likely the Mariners will promote “six to nine guys” from the minors, manager Lloyd McClendon said, once rules permit the rosters to expand.
Near-certainties in addition to Paxton include recalling outfielder James Jones, activating outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart from the disabled list, and clearing space to add veteran catcher Humberto Quintero.
Other possibilities include pitchers Taijuan Walker, Lucas Luetge and Carson Smith; first baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder Stefen Romero.
Outfielder Michael Saunders is still battling a viral infection that aborted his minor-league rehab assignment for a strained left oblique.
“I know he’s lost 7 or 8 pounds,” McClendon said. “We just need to get him back out there. I would imagine so.”
To be eligible for postseason, a player must be on the 40-man roster by Aug. 31. Clubs can also replace any player on the disabled list with any player who is in the organization as of Sept. 1.
That could come into play because utilityman Willie Bloomquist is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery. Quintero and Smith are not currently on the 40-man roster.
McClendon headed for home in Chesterton, Ind., after Wednesday’s game in order to attend the wedding Saturday of his only daughter, Schenell.
Bench coach Trent Jewett will serve as interim manager for the games Friday and Saturday against Washington at Safeco Field. Jewett spent the three previous years on the Nationals’ staff.
McClendon hopes to return for Sunday afternoon’s series finale against Washington.
Kyle Seager reached the 20-homer mark for the third straight season with a one-out blast in the ninth. He joins Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Presley as the only Mariners to hit 20 or more homers in three of his first four seasons. … McClendon said it’s “very possible” that Ramirez could get additional starts in September in order to provide other starters with extra rest. … Catcher Jesus Sucre checked out fine a day after taking a hard foul tip off the chin of his mask. It occurred in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s victory. Sucre initially appeared stunned but remained in the game. … Outfielder Chris Denorfia was better Wednesday after being scratched from Tuesday’s game because of a stiff neck.
There were, entering Wednesday, just seven minor-league players with 100 or more RBI. Three were Mariners’ prospects, and all three are closing their season at Double-A Jackson.
Third baseman D.J. Peterson ranked third overall in the minors at 104 RBI, while infielder Patrick Kivlehan and first baseman/outfielder Jordy Lara were tied for tied for fourth at 102.
All three players began the season at Hi-A High Desert. Peterson and Kivlehan are ticketed for duty in the Arizona Fall League.
It was 13 years ago Thursday — Aug 28, 2001— that rookie outfielder Ichiro Suzuki collected his 200th hit in what was the Mariners’ 132nd game of the season.
That matched Anaheim outfielder Darin Erstad in 2000 as the fastest player to 200 hits since St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick did it in 131 games in 1935.
Suzuki and Erstad were the fastest to do it in the American League since Al Simmons of the Philadelphia A’s reached that mark in 125 games in 1925.
Suzuki finished his rookie season with 242 hits. He set the major-league record with 262 in 2004.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before starting a three-game weekend series Friday against National League East-leading Washington at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (13-4 with a 2.07 ERA) will oppose Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmerman (9-5, 2.93) at 7:10 p.m. Root Sports will televise the game.