Franklin figures to get called back to the bigs

Staff writerMay 19, 2014 

MINNEAPOLIS — Infielder Nick Franklin likely will be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, if his achy back cooperates.

The Seattle Mariners are expected to make a roster move before Tuesday’s series opener at Texas after an injury to Corey Hart in Sunday’s 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

“Hopefully, (Franklin’s) back is healthy,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “And then we’ll see where we are. Obviously, we need offense, and he’s certainly an option. ... We’ll see where we are in the next few days.”

Tacoma scratched Franklin from Sunday’s game at Sacramento. He had been listed as the Rainiers’ starting left fielder. The move came soon after Hart suffered a strained left hamstring at Target Field.

Hart’s injury occurred as he prepared to slide into second on a stolen base in the fourth inning. He is headed back to Seattle for an examination Monday, but it will be surprising if he isn’t placed on the disabled list.

“I felt something,” Hart said. “Other than my knees, I’ve never had leg injuries. But I know what’s good and what’s not good. It didn’t feel normal. I knew right away that I needed to come out.”

McClendon said he and general manager Jack Zduriencik have discussed recalling Franklin in hopes he could spark a struggling attack. Franklin is batting .376 with seven homers and 26 RBIs in 30 games at Tacoma.

Such a move appeared imminent last week before a sore back prompted Franklin’s removal from a game at Las Vegas. He sat out one more day before returning to the lineup.

The Mariners view Franklin, 23, as a utility player and not a full-time replacement for struggling shortstop Brad Miller. Accordingly, Franklin played his past three games in the outfield in an effort to boost his versatility.

“For him to be able to play a lot of different positions is important,” McClendon said. “Because if he’s going to be here right now, he’s going to have to move around.”

Franklin was 2-for-16 in seven games for the Mariners in a previous recall from April 16-23. He batted .225 last season as a rookie with 12 homers and 45 RBIs in 102 games.

26 AND COUNTING

Second baseman Robinson Cano went 4-for-5 and matched a career milestone by reaching base at least once for a 26th consecutive game.

That streak is the longest current run in the majors. Cano also had a 26-game streak in 2012 with the New York Yankees.

“I’ve been feeling the same way every day,” he said. “I feel good at the plate.”

Cano’s current run began when he went 2-for-4 on April 20 at Miami. He is 37-for-103 in the surge, which has raised his average from .254 to .318.

10 AND COUNTING

Center fielder James Jones tied a club record held by Edgar Martinez by beating out an infield single to open the fifth inning. Jones has at least one hit in each of his first 10 career starts. Martinez did that in 1987.

The Twins helped Jones on the play. First baseman Joe Mauer bobbled the ball, and pitcher Ricky Nolasco was slow to break toward first — and then pulled up short of the base.

INJURY UPDATES

Left-hander James Paxton and right-hander Taijuan Walker are scheduled to pitch simulated games Tuesday in Texas. They reported no day-after problems following Saturday workouts.

Outfielder/designated hitter Logan Morrison will bat in both games as a final test to his recovery from a strained right hamstring, which surfaced before an April 14 game at Texas.

If Morrison has no problems Tuesday, he likely will depart for a minor league rehabilitation assignment to sharpen his game readiness. Such assignments can last 20 days for nonpitchers (30 for pitchers).

Paxton threw 36 pitches Saturday in a simulated game that marked his first test against hitters since April 8, when a strained left back muscle forced his exit from a game against the Los Angeles Angels.

Walker threw 55 pitches in his third workout from a bullpen mound since renewed shoulder soreness in mid-April reset his recovery.

Plans call for Paxton to pitch three or four simulated innings, while Walker likely will pitch two innings.

MINOR DETAILS

High-A High Desert right fielder Gabriel Guerrero was picked by Baseball America as its Prospect Hitter of the Day for Saturday after going 5-for-5 in a 9-4 victory over Inland Empire (Angels).

Guerrero, 20, scored three runs and had a double, an RBI and a steal. He owns a .337 batting average, .383 on-base percentage and .485 slugging percentage this season.

LOOKING BACK

It was 20 years ago Monday — May 19, 1994 — that Jay Buhner capped “Buhner Buzz” night by scoring the winning run on a ninth-inning walk in a 5-4 victory over Texas at the Kingdome.

The “Buhner Buzz” promotion granted free admission to 512 fans who agreed to get a Buhner haircut.

The Mariners rallied for two runs with two outs and nobody on base in the ninth. Ken Griffey Jr. and Buhner drew walks against Cris Carpenter. After Matt Whiteside replaced Carpenter, Rich Amaral tied the score with a single.

Whiteside loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Martinez before Mike Blowers worked a walk that scored Buhner.

SHORT HOPS

Felix Hernandez had a streak of 17 scoreless innings at Target Field before the Twins scored twice in the third. … Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had a successful challenge on a play at first base in the third inning. Opposing managers have challenged six calls this season that benefited the Mariners. Five have been overturned. … The Mariners limited Joe Mauer to one hit in 12 at-bats in the series. He entered the series as a .350 career hitter against the Mariners. Mauer was 14-for-33 against Hernandez before going 0-for-4 on Sunday. … Justin Smoak had his 11th double and 27th RBI, each of which are club-leading totals. He had 19 doubles and 50 RBIs last season in 131 games.

ON TAP

The Mariners have an open date Monday before playing a two-game series at Texas. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0, 1.59 ERA) will start the series opener at 5:05 p.m. Tuesday against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis (3-2, 4.99 ERA). Root Sports will air the game.

bob.dutton@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners

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