Erasmo Ramirez’s hold on a job in the rotation remains tenuous a day after falling to 1-3 when he gave up three runs in six innings in a 5-2 loss to the Astros.
“That’s a fair assessment,” manager Lloyd McClendon acknowledged prior to Wednesday’s series finale against Houston. “I’m not sure what we’re going to do right now.”
The Mariners have already moved right-hander Brandon Maurer into Ramirez’s slot for Sunday’s game against Texas. A open date Monday could permit the Mariners to skip Ramirez in the rotation.
That would also buy enough time to re-insert Hisashi Iwakuma into the rotation. Iwakuma is slotted Sunday for a rehab start for Triple-A Tacoma at Las Vegas (Mets).
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Ramirez opened the season by holding the Angels to two runs in seven innings in an 8-3 victory at Anaheim. Since then: 0-3 in four starts while allowing 16 runs and 21 hits in 17 innings.
While Ramirez gave up two homers Tuesday on 0-2 pitches, he believes he turned a corner by closing his outing with four scoreless innings.
“After the last three starts,” he said, “(Tuesday) was way different. I worked every pitch I’ve got for strikes. And I was ahead in the count.”
Franklin in right
Nick Franklin started in right field, which marked the first outfield start of his professional career. He did play right field for the final two innings of Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Astros but did not have a defensive chance.
“I’m trying to get a spark,” McClendon said. “He’s a bat. Hopefully, he’ll go out and get three or four hits today, score a couple and knock in three…and become a (heck) of a right fielder.”
Dustin Ackley returned to the No. 8 spot in the order after going hitless in eight at-bats, with six strikeouts, in two days as the No. 2 hitter.
“It didn’t work; I was wrong with that,” McClendon said. “I tried. I liked him in the eighth spot. It’s probably my mistake. I should have left him in the eighth spot because he was doing very well down there.
“He’s going back to the eighth spot. Right now, I’m going to leave him there and let him flourish there. Just like I’m going to leave (Mike) Zunino at the bottom of the order. Let him flourish there.
“We’ll see how it goes in the second half of the season. But for right now, I think that’s the right thing to do.”
Cleared to throw
Two of the Mariners’ prized young arms, left-hander James Paxton and righty Taijuan Walker, received clearance Wednesday to begin playing catch as the next step in their recovery from injuries.
Paxton, 25, should begin light throwing Friday after being diagnosed with a strained back muscle (left latissimus dorsi) after a 5-3 victory over the Angels on April 8.
Even so, club officials indicated earlier this week that Paxton isn’t likely to be ready for active duty before mid-to-late May. He was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his two starts prior to the injury.
Walker, 21, battled a sore shoulder in spring training but appeared close to reclaiming his spot in the rotation before the problem returned prior to a planned April 15 rehab start for Tacoma.
Plans call for him to start playing catch Monday. Club officials believe, barring further setbacks, Walker could make a rapid recovery because his endurance was nearly back to desired levels prior to this latest incident.
It was 25 years ago Thursday — April 24, 1989 — that outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. signed a contract with the Pacific Trading Cards Company that permitted them to market a candy bar named in his honor.
More than one million are sold, but Griffey, then a 19-year-old rookie, can’t enjoy one. He is allergic to chocolate, a fact confirmed when he ate three prior to a game shortly after the candy bars came out.
Griffey went four for four, but…
“Sure enough,” he reported, “I broke out, but it was worth it. The next day, I was all swollen up.”
You can still find the “Ken Griffey Junior Milk Chocolate Bar” on eBay.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before concluding their homestand with a three-game weekend series against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
Lefty Roenis Elias (1-2 with a 3.22 ERA) will start the opener Friday against Texas right-hander Robbie Ross Jr. (1-1 and 2.31). Root Sports will televise the game.