Seattle Mariners

Mariners do some roster housekeeping, prevent top minor league hitter from free agency

Baltimore Orioles’ John Andreoli watches his ground rule double that drove in two run during the ninth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Baltimore Orioles’ John Andreoli watches his ground rule double that drove in two run during the ninth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) AP

The Mariners cleaned up some space on their 40-man roster on Wednesday.

It’s now at 35 players, with one of those being outfielder John Andreoli. He’ll return to the Mariners after they claimed him back off of waivers from the Orioles.

Andreoli made his major league debut with the Mariners this season and his first big-league hit the same day on May 23 in Oakland against the Athletics.

Here’s the rest of their moves:

RHP Ryan Cook was outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma

RHP Justin Grimm was outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma

Infielder Joey Curletta was selected to the 40-man roster

RHP Juan Nicasio was reinstated from the 60-day disabled list

RHP Sam Tuivailala was reinstated to the 60-day disabled list

By MLB rules, teams had until Friday to reinstate players from the 60-day DL onto the 40-man. So adding Nicasio and Tuivailala were more for housekeeping purposes than indications of their recoveries from knee and Achilles injuries, respectively.

Nicasio was expected to be ready and healthy by spring training after arthroscopic knee surgery ended his season in late August. Tuivailala could miss the first two months of the season recovering from a season-ending Achilles tear.

But who is Curletta?

The Mariners gave the 24-year-old their Ken Griffey Jr. minor league hitter of the year award for his work in Double-A Arkansas this year after acquiring him from the Phillies in exchange for switch-pitching Pat Venditte in 2017.

He was eligible to become a minor league free agent this offseason because he has spent six years in the minor leagues.

Curletta turned his career around, batting .282 with a .383 on-base percentage and 23 home runs this season, earning Texas League Player of the Year in his first full Double-A season.

Keep in mind, since 2010 some of the other players to have earned the Texas League’s top honor have included Mike Moustakas, Matt Adams, George Springer and Matt Chapman.

“They key for me was what this organization talks about – they talk about controlling the zone, getting pitches we can handle, being OK with taking pitches that maybe we don’t really hit that well,” Curletta said at Safeco Field just before the end of the Mariners’ season. “That was a big thing for me, and trying to hit the ball in the air a little more.

“But I really don’t know what to say. It was a little surprising at first, but as the year progressed I kind of gained confidence and put it together and started believing in myself a little more than I have in past years.”

The Dodgers drafted him in the sixth round in 2012 out of Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, when he said he was told by former major leaguer Shawn Green that his swing reminded him of Mark Trumbo’s.

“Toward the end of last year I stared to get it, when I was in High-A (Modesto),” Curletta said. “This year it was just about being comfortable hitting with one or two strikes and not feeling like if I let a pitch go by I’m done in this at-bat. Just trust myself, really.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677; Twitter: @TJCotterill

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