By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
PHILADELPHIA — Reports suggest free-agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, a defector from Cuba, has narrowed his choices to six clubs, including the Mariners.
Castillo, 27, is also attracting interest from the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs and Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He conducted private workouts for all six teams.
Bidding is expected to be intense. Castillo is believed to be seeking a five-year contract for $65 million. He is represented by the Roc Nation/CAA partnership, which landed Robinson Cano’s 10-year deal for $240 million.
A decision is expected soon — in part because players must be on a major-league roster by Sept. 1 in order to be eligible for postseason play. It’s expected Castillo would require at least a few days in the minors as a tune-up.
Logan Morrison shifted from right field to first base Tuesday when Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon opted to sit designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who started Monday at first base.
Morales is expected to be back at first base for Wednesday’s series finale. Morrison will likely get the day off.
“My thought process was to make sure I played those guys two out of three (games against the Phillies),” McClendon said, “and this does it for me. It also gets (Morales) off his feet a little bit.
“I didn’t want him to play back-to-back games at first base (at this point) because that’s kind of tough after not having done it all year.”
Both players have shown improved production recently at the plate.
Morrison is batting .322 over his last 17 games, while Morales is 7-for-21 in his last six games with two homers.
Van Slyke limited
First-base coach Andy Van Slyke, who remains on restricted duty, received an injection Monday on his ailing right knee and is scheduled to get another one Monday when the Mariners return home.
“It’s like putting new treads on old tires,” Van Slyke said. “I probably need new tires, but I’m not ready for that yet.”
Van Slyke suffered the injury Aug. 7 while throwing early batting practice in the indoor cages. Infield coach Chris Woodward is serving as first-base coach until Van Slyke is ready to resume those duties.
It was 24 years ago Wednesday — Aug. 21, 1990 — that first baseman Tino Martinez made his major-league debut in a 6-5 loss at Texas.
Martinez grounded a single to right field in his first at-bat, which came in the second inning against Rangers right-hander Bobby Witt. Martinez finished 2-for-4.
The Mariners and Phillies conclude their three-game series at 10:05 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
Rookie left-hander James Paxton (3-0 with a 2.20 ERA) will oppose Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels (6-6, 2.44). Root Sports will televise the game.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before opening a three-game weekend series in Boston.