Shawn O’Malley is back in a Seattle Mariners uniform.
The native of Richland, Washington, was recalled on Sunday from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the roster spot left vacant by infielder Luis Sardinas, who was optioned to Tacoma following Saturday’s 9-7 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
O’Malley, a 28-year-old utility player, said he hopes to fill the same role he did in 25 games this season with the Rainiers.
Actually, make that roles, plural.
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“I’ve been everywhere,” O’Malley said in the Mariners’ clubhouse prior to Sunday’s game. “Short, second, third. I think the only position I haven’t played is first and catcher. But I don’t think I’ve spent more than two nights in a row in the same spot, so hopefully I can add some versatility to this lineup and help this team win.”
Indeed, O’Malley started 11 games at second base, five at shortstop, two at third base, four in left field and three in right during his stint with Tacoma, where he posted a .317 batting average, good for third on the team.
O’Malley batted ninth and started in center field for the Mariners on Sunday. He had the first of Seattle’s two hits against Angels starter Hector Santiago, a bunt in the sixth inning that was ruled a single after Santiago mishandled the ball and didn’t get a throw off.
O’Malley made his Mariners debut last season, appearing in 24 games and batting .262 in 57 plate appearances. He was one of Seattle’s top performers this spring, hitting .471 with an on-base plus slugging (OPS) percentage of 1.267.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said the club sent Sardinas to Tacoma so that he could play more often. Sardinas had appeared in only 12 games for the Mariners this season, and has four hits in 27 plate appearances (and a batting average of .154). He led off and played shortstop for the Rainiers on Sunday.
“He’s done a nice job while he got a chance to play, but he just hasn’t played,” Servais said. “He needs to get out and get playing and try to get some timing back, so when we do call him back, he can add more to our team.”
O’Malley said the most important advice he received in spring training was simply to “have fun.”
“It sounds so cliché and silly, but Scott preaches it,” O’Malley said. “They did all spring training. I think that’s exactly what our team down there did, and they’re still having fun. When I got the call, I think my team was more excited for me than anything else. It’s really nice, and I’m just excited to be here.”
Benoit eyeing road return
Servais said right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, sidelined since April 22 with right shoulder inflammation, will travel with the team and likely will be activated during Seattle’s six-game trip to Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Benoit threw a successful simulated game Saturday.
“I’ll wait from Rick (Griffin) and our training staff and coordinate with him and listen to Benoit,” Servais said, adding that he isn’t exactly sure which day Benoit will be activated. “The nice thing about guys that have been around that long — they know their bodies very well. I do know that when he does come back, he’s not a guy we’re going to run out there three consecutive days. We’re going to kind of (ease) him into it.”
Servais likes crowd
Unprompted, Servais offered an assessment on Sunday morning of the environment at Safeco Field during Saturday night’s game. Announced attendance was 42,038, Seattle’s second-biggest crowd since its home opener.
“I thought (Saturday) night, the atmosphere in our ballpark, the electricity — obviously there were 40-some thousand people there — it was awesome,” Servais said. “I’ve been in a lot of ballparks, I’ve been in a lot of big games — for it to be May 14th and that to be the excitement level in Safeco Field says a lot about our fan base.
“And I can’t wait, as the season plays out and the summer plays out, how much fun we’re going to have, and they’re going to have just as much right along with us. Our team’s got personality, we play hard, we compete extremely well, and I think that’s all our fan base really wants. And we will finish off a few of those games like we were in last night. I’m really, really excited about what I saw last night.”
The Mariners drew 40,852 to Safeco on Sunday.
The Mariners have Monday off before beginning a three-game series in Baltimore with a 4:05 p.m. game on Tuesday. Left-hander Wade Miley (3-2, 4.91 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Mariners, and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3, 4.87) is slated to pitch for the Orioles.
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 AM.