Seattle Mariners

Mariners promote shortstop J.P. Crawford, rookie Shed Long to aid ailing infield

Shed Long during the game. The Tacoma Rainers played the Albuquerque Isotopes in a baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, April 12, 2019.
Shed Long during the game. The Tacoma Rainers played the Albuquerque Isotopes in a baseball game at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash., on Friday, April 12, 2019. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

The Seattle Mariners will take a peek into their future in Boston.

Both shortstop J.P. Crawford and infielder Shed Long, who could fill a utility role, were promoted by the club Friday afternoon after spending the first month of the season with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.

Crawford and Long, who could become key pieces of the Mariners’ rebuild, were called up to aid Seattle’s ailing infield and will be available for its series opener Friday night in Boston. Crawford is in the lineup as the starting shortstop, and batting seventh, while Long is available off the bench.

The pair will replace Mariners utility player Dylan Moore, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right wrist contusion, and right-handed reliever Chasen Bradford, who was optioned to Tacoma.

Crawford, the 24-year-old former first-round draft pick who is often referred to as the Mariners’ shortstop of the future, was a late scratch from the Rainiers lineup Thursday night.

Crawford reached base safely in all 31 games he played with the Rainiers, and is slashing at .319/.420/.457. He has 15 RBIs, seven doubles, three home runs and three stolen bases.

Following Monday night’s game in Tacoma, during which he finished 4-for-5 with a three-run homer and six RBIs, Crawford said he felt ready for a return to the majors. He last played in an MLB game in September with the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I’ve been ready,” he said. “I’ve just got to go out here, do my thing each day, and prove that I’m ready. Whenever the time comes, I’ll be ready.”

Rainiers manager Daren Brown said Crawford is in a good place on offense and defense, and seems primed for a return to the majors.

“He’s done what he needs to do,” Brown said. “He’s come here, he’s played solid defense for us. He’s swung the bat well. He’s done everything that we needed him to do to this point.

“I would say he’s done enough to be promoted at any time, whether injury is involved or not. It’s something I feel like he’s earned.”

With Crawford starting at shortstop in Friday night’s game, the Mariners opted to shuffle the infield, moving everyday shortstop Tim Beckham to second.

Beckham, another former first-round pick, beat Crawford out for Seattle’s starting job this spring, but has committed an MLB-leading 11 errors this season. He also has significantly more experience playing second at the major-league level, appearing in 80 games there across five major league seasons.

Long, 23, was in his first season playing at the Triple-A level before Friday’s promotion, and could make his MLB debut during this stint with the Mariners. He is considered the No. 12 prospect in Seattle’s organization.

While Crawford was scratched, Long did appear in Thursday night’s game in Tacoma, finishing 1-for-4 with a three-run homer. He hit a grand slam the night before.

Although not starting Friday, he will likely see playing time while with the Mariners with Moore on the IL. Long has functioned in somewhat of a utility role for the Rainiers since he was acquired in January from the Yankees, appearing at second, third and in left field across 32 games.

“We do believe he’s somebody we could move around the field,” Mariners director of player development Andy McKay said recently. “The more flexibility you can create in your roster the better. And he’s shown his ability to move and play different positions, which is a huge skill.”

Long is slashing at .276/.350/.504 with five homers, five doubles, four triples and 21 RBIs, and has been one of Tacoma’s most productive hitters throughout the first month.

“It’s about swinging at good pitches,” Brown said. “We know he’s got power. He’s shown us the ability that he has just about getting better pitches to hit, laying off the ones that you can’t. When he gets in good spots, he can do some damage.”

Moore’s placement on the IL was somewhat expected after Mariners manager Scott Servais noted the rookie utility player’s recent wrist soreness to reporters in New York on Thursday night.

Moore was hit by a pitch on Wednesday and was not expected to play Thursday until second baseman Dee Gordon was forced to exit with a similar injury.

Gordon was removed with an injury to his right wrist, and is considered day-to-day following X-rays and a CT scan. He was hit by a 90-mph fastball in the third inning by Yankees starter J.A. Happ.

Gordon fell to the ground, and stayed there momentarily before standing. He was visibly upset as he walked away from the batter’s box, but told reporters in New York his frustration was more about pitch location than his wrist.

“He’s pretty sore,” Servais told reporters after the game. “Got him obviously very solid on the back of the forearm.”

Jay Bruce pinch-hit for Moore in the eighth and created an interesting infield for the Mariners with Moore and Gordon both out of the game. Bruce played first and Edwin Encarnacion was moved to second base. Encarnacion then seemed to roll his left wrist on a later play, but stayed in the game.

“We’ve got a few guys banged up right now,” Servais said. “Dylan Moore got hit by a pitch (Wednesday) night. He was very sore today. (We were) trying to stay away from him, but we needed to go to some guys to try to get through the game, and end up with Edwin playing second base, so not ideal.”

Encarnacion was in Seattle’s starting lineup Friday night, but at designated hitter, with Bruce taking over at first base.

Moore has appeared in 28 games with the Mariners this season, slashing at .229/.339/.417, with three doubles, two homers and five RBIs. He has appeared at second, shortstop, third, left field and pitcher this season.

Bradford (0-0, 4.61 ERA) was likely optioned to Tacoma because he is one of Seattle’s few players with options remaining. The Mariners now have seven relievers on their active roster.

Bradford has appeared in 10 games with the Mariners this season, allowing seven earned runs on 14 hits (including four home runs) in 13 2/3 innings. He’s struck out 10 and walked three.

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.

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