By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
ARLINGTON, Texas — Can Nick Franklin jump-start the Seattle Mariners’ stagnant attack? We’re about to find out.
The Mariners recalled Franklin prior to Wednesday’s game against the Texas Rangers after he batted .395 with four homers and 13 RBI through 11 games at Class AAA Tacoma.
“I had a great start in Tacoma,” he said, “and I’m looking forward to getting here, start winning some games and to just play.”
Franklin was 1-for-4 in his first game back. His one-out triple in the second inning led to a 2-0 lead against Rangers ace Yu Darvish before Texas rallied for a walk-off victory.
The Mariners cleared space for Franklin by placing outfielder/DH Logan Morrison on the disabled list because of a strained right hamstring. Franklin got the word late Tuesday after Tacoma’s victory over Salt Lake.
In a subsequent move, the club recalled outfielder James Jones from Tacoma after placing pitcher Blake Beavan on the disabled list because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.
The latter move leaves the Mariners without a starting pitcher for Sunday’s game in Miami. The top candidates appear to be right-handers Brandon Maurer and Anthony Fernandez, who are both at Tacoma.
“I’m worried about tonight,” manager Lloyd McClendon said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Rangers. “We’ll deal with tonight, and we’ll work on Sunday when Sunday gets here.”
On Wednesday, McClendon put Franklin into the lineup as the designated hitter but said that won’t be a regular role for the switch-hitter who batted .225 last season with 12 homers and 45 RBI in 102 games..
“Nick will play and move around,” McClendon said. “Probably (today), he’ll play second. Robby (Cano) will DH. We’ll give Robby a day (off from defensive duty).
“Maybe against a left-hander, (Franklin) will be in the outfield. Maybe short. Maybe third.”
Franklin, 23, has not played the outfield as a professional beyond a handful of innings in spring training — but that doesn’t seem to be a concern.
“I’m really comfortable in the outfield,” he said. “It’s a lot easier than the infield, that’s for sure. The outfield is second nature. I’ll just go out there and have fun with it but be smart at the same time.”
McClendon said: “He played in spring training. You know, Nick is a former outfielder. He’s not a neophyte. It’s like riding a bike. If you’ve been out there, you get back on it and ride it again.”
Morrison suffered his injury while stretching prior to Monday’s series opener against the Rangers. It will prevent him from playing this weekend in
Miami, where he spent the previous four seasons.
“I asked him (Tuesday), and he said, ‘I can’t run,’” McClendon said. “Listen, I don’t want this kid going out there at 80 percent and worrying about hurting it again — and then hurting it again.
“The best thing to do is to get it right, get it healthy and then get him back out there.”