ATLANTA — Struggling infielder Nick Franklin, hitless in his last 16 at-bats, is heading back to Triple-A Tacoma in an effort to recapture his swing.
The Mariners optioned Franklin, 23, to the Rainiers prior to Tuesday’s game in order to clear roster space for right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, whom they recalled from Tacoma.
Ramirez started Tuesday’s series opener against the Braves but exited after yielding five runs in three innings before the Mariners rallied for a 7-5 victory.
Franklin wasn’t just slumping prior to the move; he often wasn’t even making contact. He struck out in nine of his last 13 at-bats. His average is down to .128 at 6-for-47 in 17 games, including 14 starts.
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Manager Lloyd McClendon chose to use Franklin’s demotion to emphasize need for positive results from everyone on the roster.
“I just told him to go down and play,” McClendon said. “If you get an opportunity to come back, when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to produce.
“That’s one of the messages I’m trying to send to every individual in our organization: This is not a country club. You have to have positive results here. That’s just the way it is.”
This marks Franklin’s third tour this season at Tacoma, where he has compiled a .376/.481/.633 slash (batting average, on-base and slugging percentage) in 30 games. He also has seven homers and 26 RBIs.
“I don’t have the answer,” McClendon said. “I really don’t. He was striking out at an alarming rate. This is a game of adjustments, particularly at this level. You’ve got to be able to make adjustments.”
Seager cleaning up
Third baseman Kyle Seager, coming off a career night, shifted to cleanup in Tuesday’s lineup by shifting slots with first baseman Justin Smoak, who is in a 7-for-57 slide over the last 15-plus games.
“I’m doing everything I can to get Robby (Cano) the best protection,” McClendon said. “Smokie’s in a little bit of a funk right now. Hopefully, he’ll come out of it soon.”
The switch meant the Mariners offered four left-handed hitters atop their lineup in James Jones, Michael Saunders, Cano and Seager.
“We are what we are,” McClendon said. “Get them early and hold on.”
Those plans were a bust. The Mariners fell into an early four-run hole, before rallying to win, and Seager went hitless in five at-bats.
The move didn’t help Smoak, either. He also went 0-for-5.
Seager gained the promotion by hitting .405 (15-for-37) over the previous 10 games. The move came the day after he tied a franchise record by getting four extra-base hits in one game.
McClendon believes Smoak’s slump stems from being too passive.
“I just think he needs to be a little more aggressive,” McClendon said. “Attack early in the count a little bit more. When you’re not feeling good, the worst thing you can do is get one swing per at-bat.
“It’s hard to hit that way. Sometimes, you’ve just got to let it fly.”
One final look at Seager’s big Monday night in New York, when he matched a franchise record by collecting four extra-base hits in a 10-2 victory over the Yankees.
Seager had two triples, a double and homer — which he termed, “a good day, for sure.” He was just the sixth different player in Mariners history to get four extra-base hits in a game. Adrian Beltre did it twice.
Seager is the first player in Mariners history to hit a homer and two triples in the same game. (If you’re wondering, Monday was the 5,926th game in franchise history.)
No American League player had a game with two triples and at least one double and one homer since Detroit outfielder Hoot Evers on Sept. 7, 1950 in a 13-13 tie with Cleveland that was called after 10 innings.
Plus: Seager is the first visiting player in 100 years to get two triples and four extra-base hits against the Yankees. (That covers more than 8,000 games.)
Here’s the list of previous Mariners with four extra-base hits in a game:
*Mike Blowers on May 24, 1995: two doubles, one triple, one homer in a 15-6 victory over the Red Sox.
*Ken Griffey Jr. on July 1, 1998: three doubles, one homer in a 9-5 victory over the Rockies.
*Mike Cameron on May 2, 2002: four homers in a 15-4 victory over the White Sox.
*Adrian Beltre on May 28, 2007: two doubles, two homers in a 12-5 victory over the Angels.
*Raul Ibanez on June 11, 2007: one double, one triple, two homers in an 8-7 victory over the Indians.
*Adrian Beltre on July 6, 2007: two doubles, two homers in a 7-1 victory over the A’s.
Trainer Rick Griffin, in his 32nd season, will work his 5,000th game Wednesday the Mariners conclude their series against the Braves. The Mariners have had 700 players in his tenure.…The Mariners have 15 triples after getting two on Monday from Kyle Seager. They finished last year with 17…The Mariners suffered a three-game sweep at Miami in their only previous interleague games of the season…The Braves come to Safeco Field for two games on Aug. 5-6…The Mariners’ victory broke a five-game losing streak to the Braves, who still hold a 6-3 edge in the all-time series…Robinson Cano went 3-for-5 and raised his average to .333.
Double-A Jackson placed shortstop Ketel Marte and right-handed pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen on the North Division team for the Southern League All-Star Game, which is June 17 in Chattanooga.
Marte, 20, is batting .304 with 30 runs in 53 games. A switch-hitter, his 66 hits are tied for second in the Southern League. A native of the Dominican Republic, he was signed in 2010 as a 16-year-old.
Kohlscheen, 25, has a 1.29 ERA in 20 games as the Generals’ closer. He was the Mariners’ 45th round selection in 2010 out of Auburn.
High Desert swept the weekly awards for (May 26 to June 1) in the Hi-A California League when third baseman D.J. Peterson and left-hander Tyler Pike were chosen as player and pitcher of the week.
Peterson, 22, went 14-for-30 with two homers and seven RBIs. Pike, 20, pitched six innings in a combined no-hitter against Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers).
Two other Mavericks were picked as player of the week in April: infielder Patrick Kivlehan for April 14-20; and infielder Jordy Lara for April 21-27.
The Mariners remain a 50-1 shot to win the World Series in the latest odds posted by Bovada, the online gaming site. They were also 50-1 at the start of the season.
Only two other clubs remained steady: Cincinnati at 40-1, and Houston at 500-1. Detroit remains the favorite at 6-1 — or slightly better than its 13-2 odds at the start of the season.
Bovada also places second baseman Robinson Cano at a 25-1 shot to be the American League’s Most Valuable Player but has Felix Hernandez at 11-2 to be the Cy Young Award winner.
The pitcher with better odds than Hernandez is Yankees rookie Masahiro Tanaka at 4-1.
It was 35 years ago Wednesday — June 4, 1979 — that the Mariners set a club record by hitting six home runs in an 11-2 victory over Detroit at the Kingdome.
Willie Horton, Larry Cox, Dan Meyer, Ruppert Jones, John Hale and Bruce Bochte went deep in the romp.
The record stood until the Mariners hit seven homers on April 11, 1985 against Oakland. They also hit seven on July 31, 1996 at Milwaukee, on July 5, 1999 at Anaheim and May 2, 2002 at Chicago.
The Mariners conclude their brief stay in Atlanta at 9:10 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday at Turner Field. Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (3-2 with a 3.09 ERA) will pitch against Braves lefty Mike Minor (2-3 and 3.41).
After a open date Thursday — their only open date in a 37-day stretch — the Mariners open a four-game wraparound series (Friday through Monday) at Tampa Bay.