The Seattle Mariners want D.J. Peterson to spend most of his time at first base.
But for the first time this season, Peterson was back in the hot corner at third base, where he played two games with the Tacoma Rainiers last season and 30 overall, after Rainiers manager Pat Listach got permission from the Mariners to do so.
Don’t expect that to happen often.
"They said, ‘Don’t make a habit of it. No more than once a week,’” Listach said. “Today was that once a week."
It was for the first of two seven-inning games against El Paso on Thursday at Cheney Stadium. The Rainiers were outdone the first game when Hector Sanchez hit a grand slam in the top of the fifth inning for a 5-3 El Paso win. But Tacoma rallied back from a three-run deficit to win the second game, 5-4.
Peterson, the Mariners’ first-round draft pick in 2013 and 13th pick overall, shifted back over to first base for the second game. His versatility allows Listach to use catcher Rob Brantly at designated hitter, while recently acquired Dan Vogelbach plays first base.
"I want to do whatever the Mariners see me as," Peterson said. "Whatever I can do to help their big league club, that’s what I want to do.
"So if they shift me over to third sometimes, shift me over to left – whatever they want me to do to contribute to the big league team.
Vogelbach had his first hit in Tacoma since joining the team when the Mariners traded reliever Mike Montgomery and Double-A pitcher Jordan Pries to the Chicago Cubs for him. And it was an RBI single.
He added another RBI in the second game to give the Rainiers a 1-0 lead. He leads the Pacific Coast League with a .421 on-base percentage dating to his time with Iowa.
"I think he’s a big league hitter," Listach said. "I think he really makes the pitcher work, which is what we need."
Vogelbach had been 0-for-8 at Cheney Stadium.
"I was excited to get the first one out of the way, but more importantly it was an RBI to help us take the lead," Vogelbach said. "That was the biggest thing. With a runner in scoring position I’m always going to do whatever I can to get that run."
His hit put Zach Lee in line for his first win since joining the Rainiers.
Except El Paso tied the game in the top of the fifth with Carlos Asuaje’s RBI single off Lee before Hector Sanchez rocketed a 1-2 pitch from reliever Emilio Pagan over the right-field wall for a grand slam.
And that was all the runs the Chihuahuas needed to beat the Rainiers 5-3 in the first game. Former Mariners starter Brandon Morrow closed it out pitching two scoreless inning in relief.
The Rainiers rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second game. Patrick Kivlehan hit an RBI single with the bases loaded and Daniel Robertson followed with his second double of the game to score two more after Zach Shank had scored on a wild pitch.
Tacoma’s relief pitchers impressed in both games, allowing one run combined in six innings. Andrew Kitteridge tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the second game and Blake Parker followed with his 18th save in 19 chances.
Left-hander Charlie Furbush pitched a scoreless sixth inning in the first game, striking out two batters – both on 77-mph breaking balls – in his fifth appearance since beginning his rehab assignment with the Rainiers. Although, he also hit a batter and allowed a single against a left-handed batter.
Listach said Furbush will pitch again on Friday.
"He’s still a work in progress," Listach said of Furbush, who is coming off of shoulder injuries. "Tomorrow will be the first time going back-to-back games. We’ll see how he’s feeling the next day and then give him a couple of days off and send him back out. This is his spring training."
Right-hander Sam Gaviglio (0-0, 5.40 ERA) looks for his first win in his third start with the Rainiers in a 7:05 p.m. Friday series finale against El Paso, which will start lefty Frank Garces (4-4, 5.10). The game will broadcast on 850-AM.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677