The numbers that first baseman Jesus Montero put up at Triple-A Tacoma finally become too much for the Seattle Mariners to ignore.
The Mariners recalled Montero, 25, after optioning pitcher J.A. Happ to Triple-A Tacoma in a series of roster moves prior to Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
The move required Happ’s approval because of his service time. But he started Wednesday against Detroit and was not slotted for another outing until after the All-Star break.
Montero is leading the Pacific Coast League with 115 hits, 57 runs, 68 RBIs, 180 total bases, 84 game and 340 at-bats. He is also third in the league with a .332 batting average.
“It means a lot,” he admitted. “It means hard work pays off. It’s been really good. It was hard, but I’m happy to be here. I just want to have fun up here, too.”
The Mariners also placed left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush on the 15-disabled list because of biceps tendinitis and optioned rookie right-hander reliever Mayckol Guiape to Tacoma.
Lefty swingman Vidal Nuno and right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar were recalled from Tacoma as replacement.
The decision to recall Montero represents another major step in his career resurrection.
Viewed as one of the game’s top prospects when acquired in January 2012 from the Yankees, Montero endured a series of injuries and suspensions over the last few years.
His season ended last year when he was suspended in August after an on-field confrontation with one of the club’s scouts.
With his career teetering, Montero underwent a strict off-season conditioning regimen and lost 45 pounds. He then quickly re-established his credentials this year at Tacoma.
“I turned the page,” he said earlier this year. “I turned everything (over) to the Mariners.
“I put all of my love, all of my sweat — every second, every minute, every hour — into spending time here with the organization. Just working to get better every single day.”
Montero’s delayed return to the big leagues stemmed in large part to the Mariners being overloaded at designated hitter and first base. Even now, it’s not clear how much he’ll play.
“I’m sure he’ll see time against left-handers,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I’m told the he’s gotten better (at first base) but, more than likely, he’ll probably DH.”
Whether Montero can hold onto a roster spot after the break is anyone’s guess. The Mariners will need a fifth starting pitcher and will, presumably, recall Happ shortly after the schedule resumes.
For now, though, Montero can enjoy being back in the big leagues.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “It’s been really good (this year). I just want to hit the ball hard and see what happens.”
Furbush is heading to the disabled list because of biceps tendinitis. The injury isn’t believed to be serious, but it caused a shakeup in the club’s relief corps.
“That’s why we’re doing this — so it won’t be serious,” McClendon said. “He’s had it off and on a couple of times. With the All-Star break coming up, it just made sense to get this thing quieted down going into the second half.”
The Mariners also optioned Guaipe back to Tacoma after he absorbed losses in each of his two previous appearances. To compensate, the club recalled Nuno and Farquhar from Tacoma.
The injury to Furbush, 29, creates a major hole in a relief corps that is battling to find consistency. He had a 2.08 ERA this season in 28 appearances and had stranded all 16 of his inherited runners.
“It’s not when I’m pitching that I feel it at all,” he said. “It’s the next day or once I’m done. I just felt that it stiffened up a little bit on me.”
The move comes after Furbush worked around a leadoff double Tuesday in the 11th inning against Detroit by striking out three batters. He got the victory when the Mariners scored in the bottom of the inning.
“I thought I would shake the inflammation out,” Furbush said. “It took a little longer than I thought. We’ll deal with it and move forward. I’m not too concerned.”
Guaipe, 24, departs just five days after his recall from Tacoma. He gave up up four runs in two-plus innings in a pair of losses to Detroit.
The injury to Furbush permitted the Mariners to recall Nuno less than 10 days after he was optioned July 4 to the Rainiers.
Nuno, 27, pitched six innings in a July 5 start for Tacoma after compiling a 2.53 ERA in nine relief appearances for the Mariners following a June 3 trade that brought him from Arizona.
Farquhar, 28, was a key member of last year’s big-league bullpen before losing his job earlier this year after going 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in 22 games.
While Farquhar has a a 4.58 ERA in 12 games overall at Tacoma, his recent work has been better: three runs in 10 1/3 innings over his last seven appearances.
“I felt like it all clicked in my second-to-last outing,” he said. “I think I’ve got everything figured out.”
Center fielder Austin Jackson spent another day undergoing treatment for back spasms after leaving Wednesday’s game in the fourth inning.
“Austin is still a little sore,” McClendon said. “He’s taking treatment and, hopefully, he’s be ready to go (Friday).”
Dustin Ackley replaced Jackson in center field for Thursday’s game.
Shortstop Ketel Marte’s rehab assignment in the Arizona Rookie League ended after just one day. He was activated Thursday and assigned to Double-A Jackson.
That assignment is also likely to be brief since Marte, 21, is scheduled to play Sunday for the World team in the All-Star Futures Game in Cincinnati.
Marte was 2-for-3 for Peoria on Wednesday in his first game action since suffering a broken left thumb on May 31 while playing for Tacoma. He was batting .343 at the time in 51 games.
It was 14 years ago Friday — July 10, 2001 — that Safeco Field played host to the All-Star Game. The Mariners had eight players on the American League team.
Four Mariners started: outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, second baseman Bret Boone, first baseman John Olerud and designated hitter Edgar Martinez.
Also selected: outfielder Mike Cameron and three pitchers: Freddy Garcia, Jeff Nelson and Kazuhiro Sasaki.
The AL won 4-1 in front of a crowd of 47,364 with Garcia getting the victory and Sasaki getting the save. Baltimore’s Cal Ripken was picked as the Most Valuable Player.
Manager Lloyd McClendon returned from a three-day personal leave following the death of his sister. Trent Jewett resumed his duties as bench coach. … Robinson Cano has four homers in his last 15 games after hitting just two in his first 67 games…The Mariners, by losing Wednesday to Detroit, are 2-8 when a series is tied going into the final game. They have lost seven straight in those circumstances…The Mariners lead the majors with 50 games decided by two or fewer runs. They are 23-27 in those games…
The Mariners and Angels continue their four-game series at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Safeco Field. Left-hander Mike Montgomery (4-2, 1.62) will face Los Angeles lefty Hector Santiago (5-4, 2.40).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM.
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