Welcome back to the big leagues, Gordon Beckham.
The Seattle Mariners selected the veteran infielder from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday to take the place of star second baseman Robinson Cano, who was officially placed on the 10-day disabled list with a fractured bone in his hand.
So it begins — now the Mariners have to figure out how to stay in contention without their No. 3 hitter and arguably most consistent hitter in their lineup.
Beckham certainly isn’t Cano. But he is a former starting second baseman with the Chicago White Sox.
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"Any team that is going to lose their three-hole hitter, nobody has someone who can step in and replace that guy," Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters Monday. "So guys around him throughout our lineup and throughout the whole ball club needs to step up."
The Mariners have already sustained stretches without catcher Mike Zunino, designated hitter Nelson Cruz, first baseman Ryon Healy and left fielder Ben Gamel. Their key set-up reliever, David Phelps, tore his ulnar collateral ligament in spring training, which required Tommy John Surgery. And right-hander Erasmo Ramirez is currently on the disabled list with a strain of his right Teres Major.
"Everybody has to step up their game a little bit," Servais said. "We went a stretch without Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino and we played well because our bullpen was so good during that time. .... We've got a good team. We have guys who are certainly capable of filling in."
So enter the journeyman Beckham.
The Mariners also added him to their 40-man roster, giving them 39 players.
And of the Mariners options to replace Cano, no player in their organization has started and played as many games at second base as Beckham – not even converted center fielder Dee Gordon.
Except Gordon has a Gold Glove there.
The 31-year-old Beckham has been catching on at the plate, too – recording a slash line of .300/.412/.500 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with Tacoma. He was scratched from each of the Rainiers’ lineup for both games of their double-header on Sunday, making the move seem imminent.
And he impressed during spring training, hitting .340 in 19 games. Servais attributed that to some major adjustments to Beckham's swing.
In 11 games with the Mariners after September last season, Beckham was 3-for-17 (.176) without any extra-base hits.
"He had a really good spring training for us and he was one of the tougher cuts we had to make," Servais said. "But we committed to (Andrew) Romine as our utility guy."
The Mariners didn’t even seem to entertain the idea that they could switch Gordon from center field back to his natural position at second base. That’s because they committed this offseason to making him a permanent center fielder, and they were adamant they didn’t even want him thinking there was a chance he could spend some games playing second base.
Servais said they talked about that idea, though.
"I think that the key is that Dee Gordon — we're committed to him in center field," Servais said. "We understand that he's had some highlight moments and other moments that haven't gone that smoothly. But I think for the long-term future of this ball club, Dee Gordon is our center fielder."
Cano broke the fifth metacarpal in his right hand when he was struck by a pitch from Tigers starter and Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Blaine Hardy. Cano shouted in pain and went to a knee before he was pulled from the game and replaced with Romine.
Cano said he was flying to Philadelphia to see a hand specialist on Tuesday morning, where he'll likely be told he'll need surgery.
So why not use a combination of Romine and utility player Taylor Motter, who was already on the Mariners’ 40-man roster?
Romine and Motter have combined to start 51 games at second base in their careers. Beckham has started 668 games there in the majors, getting most of that time from 2010-14 with the White Sox.
He’s spent the majority of the past two seasons starting for the Rainiers.
Beckham is also a former first-round draft pick, selected eighth overall by the White Sox in 2008 out of the University of Georgia.
In parts of nine major league seasons with the White Sox (2009-14, 2015), Angels (2014), Braves (2016), Giants (2016) and Mariners, Beckham is a career .239 hitter with 173 doubles, five triples, 74 home runs and 335 RBI in 964 games.
"Gordon Beckham is very capable at second base in the big leagues," Servais said. "He's very capable of turning double plays. It's not Robby. He makes it look easy and I don't know if there's anybody who can make it look that easy."
Paxton earns co-player of the week
James Paxton earned the American League’s co-player of the week, sharing the honor with the Cleveland Indians’ Francisco Lindor. It’s the third time Paxton has earned this award.
Paxton and Randy Johnson are now the only pitchers in Seattle Mariners’ history to earn three player of the week honors. Paxton earned player of the week twice last season (April 10-16; July 24-30).
Paxton threw the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history when the lefty from Ladner, British Columbia, became the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Canada. It was also Paxton’s first complete game.
Daniel Vogelbach earned the Pacific Coast League’s player of the week, announced Monday morning.
In eight games this past week (yes, eight in seven days), Vogelbach hit .429 (12-for-28) with five home runs, eight RBI and four doubles for the Tacoma Rainiers. He had a .543 on-base percentage and a 1.107 slugging percentage.
The 25-year-old had three home runs during Sunday’s double-header against the Sacramento River Cats.
Since he was optioned from the Mariners on April 27, Vogelbach has played 18 games and hit .328 with eight home runs.
Mike Leake (4-3, 5.72 ERA) is starting the first game of the Mariners three-game homestand with the Texas Rangers, who will start left-hander Mike Minor (3-2, 4.73 ERA). That game will start at 7:10 p.m. Thursday and will televise on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.
But the Mariners have yet to announce their spot-starter for Wednesday’s game. They need one because their rotation got pushed back by the doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers on Saturday (after a rain-out on Friday).
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677