Some good news for the Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz is again positioned for duty as the American League’s starting designated hitter in the All-Star Game with a few days left in online voting.
Cruz surged ahead of Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales by 204,905 votes in the latest balloting update released Monday by Major League Baseball. That represents a swing of 491,014 votes in Cruz’s favor over the last week.
All voting this season, for the first time, is being conducted online at Mlb.com and the 30 club websites, including Mariners.com. Voting continues through 8:59 p.m. on Thursday.
Cruz is the only Seattle player cited in the final weekly release, which reported the top 15 outfielders and the top five players at all other positions.
The starting position players for both leagues will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN. The reserves, pitchers and the five Final Vote candidates will be revealed at 4 p.m. Monday on ESPN.
The Final Vote determines the final player for each league’s 34-player roster. An online vote chooses from five candidates in each league.
The leaders in the latest release:
Short-A Everett center fielder Luis Liberato, 19, was picked as the player of the week in the Northwest League for June 22-28 after batting .458 with 11 hits in 24 at-bats over six games.
The Mariners signed Liberato, a native Dominican, as a non-draft free agent on Dec. 6, 2012. He spent 2013 on the organization’s Dominican team before shifting last year to Peoria in the Arizona Rookie League.
OK, this is what the Mariners had in mind when they selected outfielder Alex Jackson with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft.
Jackson, 19, is batting .381 (8 for 21) over the last six games for Short-A Everett with a .435 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging percentage.
The Mariners tried to accelerate Jackson’s development earlier this season by assigning him to Low-A Clinton even though he was roughly 21/2 years younger than the average age for Midwest League players.
That didn’t work. Jackson batted .157 in 28 games and struck out 35 times in 108 at-bats. That prompted a remedial assignment to extended spring training in an effort to get him turned around.
Jackson is still ahead of the age curve at Everett; he is 1.9 years younger than the average age for players in the Northwest League.
THE ROAD BACK
Left-hander Anthony Fernandez, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, pitched four scoreless innings Monday for Double-A Jackson in its 4-0 victory at Birmingham (White Sox)
It was Fernandez’s first start since being activated from a rehab assignment at Rookie Peoria. He permitted one hit and one walk while striking out seven.
The Mariners viewed Fernandez, 25, as a rising prospect before he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery last May after making five starts at Tacoma.
It was 20 years ago Tuesday — June 30, 1995 — that now-hitting coach Edgar Martinez closed out a phenomenal month by drawing three walks in a 10-2 loss to Texas at the Kingdome.
Martinez batted .402 over 28 games in June 1995 with nine doubles, eight homers and 32 RBIs. He had a .537 on-base percentage and a .671 slugging percentage for a 1.297 OPS.
He was picked as the American League’s player of the month, one of five times he received that honor in his career. He also won in July and August 1992, May 2000 and May 2003.
The Mariners open a two-game series against the Padres at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Petco Park in San Diego.
Lefty Mike Montgomery (2-2, 2.04) will face San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy (4-6, 5.09) in the opener. The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.