Remember last winter when the Mariners, under new general manager Jerry Dipoto, executed a dizzying series of roster moves? The regular season is proving no different.
The Mariners bolstered their outfield defense and added a right-handed bat Monday by recalling Guillermo Heredia from Triple-A Tacoma after clearing space by placing reliever Drew Storen on the disabled list because of a sore shoulder.
Tuesday promises more moves.
“We’ve got a few things coming down the pipe,” manager Scott Servais confirmed. “Today, we brought Heredia in. Drew Storen needs a little blow with where he’s at, shoulder-wise, right now.
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“That’s the move today. There will be some others.”
Right-hander Taijuan Walker is expected to be recalled from Tacoma to start against the New York Yankees when the three-game series continues at Safeco Field.
The Mariners are also likely to add a reliever, probably by activating right-hander Tony Zych from the 60-day disabled list, to what became a six-man bullpen Monday after Storen’s move to the disabled list.
Zych hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since May 1 because of tendinitis in his rotator cuff but has made four scoreless one-inning rehab appearances in the minors since Aug. 12.
The Mariners have an alternative to Zych in right-hander Evan Scribner, who has also made four rehab appearances this month in his recovery from a torn back muscle suffered in spring training.
Zych seems the likelier choice.
Who departs to clear space on the 25-man roster is less clear.
One likely casualty is right-hander Cody Martin, who started Monday’s opener against the Yankees (and thus would be unavailable to pitch for the next four days). The other odd-man out figures to be a position player.
Storen, 29, has what the Mariners are characterizing as shoulder inflammation, but he seemed to suggest the problem should subside after a few days of rest.
“I’d say normally I’d be fine,” said Storen, who allowed one run in nine innings over his last nine appearances. “But with the (important) games we’re playing, and roster-wise, I don’t want to leave the guys hanging out to dry down in the bullpen.
“We’ll let my shoulder calm down a little bit and come back strong.”
The Mariners opted to put Storen on the 15-day disabled list in order to keep fresh (and available) arms in their bullpen as they pursue their first postseason appearance since 2001.
“I was trying desperately to stay away from him (Sunday),” Servais said. “Ultimately, I had to get him up in the ninth. He was probably going to need a few days anyway.
“Just where we’re at right now, we might get away with it for one day, but…there are other moves coming down the pike. Drew, we need him back. But we’re giving him a blow.
“We saw what happened when we gave (Steve) Cishek a blow and got him back healthy. He’s looked very good the last couple of times.”
Heredia, 25, batted .280 (7-for-25) over 12 games in a previous call-up. A Cuban defector, he signed with the Mariners in March and batted .300 with a .395 on-base percentage in 93 games at Double-A Jackson (58) and Tacoma (35).
“It’s really comfortable to be back here,” he said. “I’m hoping to do as well as I did the first time if not better.”
Club officials declined to confirm plans to recall Walker but privately acknowledged him as the likely choice to start Tuesday against the Yankees. Walker was 4-7 with a 4.10 ERA prior to his Aug. 8 demotion to the Rainiers.
ANOTHER ROTATION DECISION
With James Paxton poised to return Thursday from the disabled list and Walker looming as a likely recall candidate, the Mariners face another rotation decision Saturday against the White Sox in Chicago:
Ariel Miranda or Wade LeBlanc?
Servais sounds as if he’s leaning toward Miranda, who has allowed nine runs in 17 2/3 innings (a 4.58 ERA) over four appearances, including three starts, since arriving July 31 from Baltimore in a trade for lefty Wade Miley.
Miranda (1-0) gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday against Milwaukee and was positioned for the victory before the bullpen let a three-run lead slip away in the ninth inning.
“I thought he threw the ball really well,” Servais said. “We have to decide, when that turn comes up again, is it him? Do we keep Wade LeBlanc in there? I like where Miranda’s at. I would look for him to make some more starts.”
LeBlanc is 3-0 with a 4.72 ERA in nine games, including eight starts, since arriving from in a June 21 trade for a player to be named later or cash. He gave up three runs over 5 1/3 innings last Friday in a 7-6 victory over the Brewers.
Whichever pitcher doesn’t start figures to become the bullpen’s long reliever.
3,500 AND COUNTING
Robinson Cano’s double on Saturday gave him 3,500 total bases in his career. According to Stats, Inc., he is only the fifth American League player to reach that mark in his first 12 seasons.
The others are Joe DiMaggio (3,773 from 1936-1950), Al Simmons (3,770 from 1924-1935), Lou Gehrig (3,674 from 1923-1934) and Alex Rodriguez (3,576 from 1994-2005).
Cano entered Monday’s game needing one more double to reach 30 and become the first player to do so in each of his first 12 seasons. He is already the only player to do it in his first 11 seasons.
Minor League Baseball confirmed Monday that Hi-A Bakersfield will cease operations after this season. The Mariners are expected to shift their Hi-A affiliation to Modesto.
While Modesto is currently a Colorado affiliate, the Mariners recently purchased a 51-percent interest in the franchise to secure a favorable affiliation in the California League. The Rockies are expected to shift their operations to Lancaster.
The Cal League is also losing High Desert, which served as the Mariners’ Hi-A club from 2007-14. High Desert currently operates as a Texas affiliate, but the Rangers are shifting operations to Kinston in the Carolina League.
Bakersfield right-hander Zack Littell was picked as the California League pitcher of the week for Aug. 15-21 after working seven shutout innings Aug. 17 against San Jose (Giants) in his only start.
It was Littell’s second award of the season. He was the Midwest League pitcher of the week for June 6-12 while pitching at Lo-A Clinton.
Littell, 20, is 7-1 with a 1.77 in nine games, including eight starts, for the Blaze since his July 4 promotion from Clinton, where he was 5-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 16 starts. The Mariners selected Littell in the 11th round of the 2013 MLB Draft.
It was 17 years ago Tuesday — Aug. 23, 1999 — that Ken Griffey Jr, became only the third player in history to hit 200 homers over a four-year span when his two-run shot in the first inning carried the Mariners to a 4-1 victory over Cleveland at Safeco Field.
Griffey’s homer was his 39th of the season. He would finish with an American League-leading 48 homers for 209 from 1996-99.
The only other players at that point with 200 homers over a four-year span were Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire.
The Mariners and Yankees continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field. The Mariners are expected to recall right-hander Taijuan Walker (4-7 with a 4.10 ERA) from Triple-A Tacoma for the start.
New York plans to start veteran lefty CC Sabathia (7-10, 4.49).
Walker made 17 starts before getting optioned Aug. 8 to Tacoma. He has allowed six runs and 12 hits in 15 innings over two starts but worked 6 1/2 scoreless innings on Aug. 18 at Nashville (Athletics).
Tuesday’s game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and ESPN. Ken Griffey Jr. will serve as a guest analyst on the ESPN telecast. The game can also be heard on the Mariners Radio Network, which includes 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners