SEATTLE — This was one of the reasons the Mariners acquired Luis Sardinas in a trade last November from the Milwaukee and a major reason he made the club as their utility infielder.
Sardinas profiles as a gifted defensive shortstop.
"Luis has been an awesome surprise in his ability to play all over the field," manager Scott Servais said, "but he’s a natural shortstop. That’s what he was signed as. That’s what he’s played pretty much his entire minor-league career.
"He’s played some second base and some third base. We’ve experimented more than other teams he’s been on, but he is a natural shortstop."
Sardinas, 22, played shortstop Tuesday for the first time this season when he replaced a slumping Ketel Marte against Texas at Safeco Field. His only previous start came in left field; he also closed out two earlier games at first base.
"I’m most comfortable at shortstop," Sardinas said, "but my role now is to do everything — to be ready for every position."
Sardinas had not played first or the outfield in his seven professional seasons until this year. But shortstop? That’s his comfort zone.
"Luis is a very confident player," Servais said. "He believes, when he steps on the field, he’s the best player on the field. He plays very relaxed. He has a very slow heartbeat. He’s never in a hurry, which serves him well."
Servais judged that Marte simply needed a break. He was hitless in his last 11 at-bats with five strikeouts, including 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in Monday’s 7-3 loss to the Rangers. His average was down to .160 (4-for-25).
"Obviously, he didn’t have a great night (Monday) night," Servais said, "but he’s not going to play all 162 games…Ketel has shown flashes of what he can do. We’ll give him the night off and see where it goes from there."
Look for right-hander Joel Peralta and lefty Vidal Nuno to serve as the eighth-inning bridge to closer Steve Cishek until veteran Joaquin Benoit is ready to resume his job as the bullpen’s primary set-up reliever.
"It would probably be more mix-and-match, based on where we are in the lineup, with Nuno and Peralta," Servais confirmed. "Peralta has a history of getting lefties out."
Peralta let a one-run lead slip away Sunday in the eighth inning against Oak;and when he gave up a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien. The Athletics subsequently won the game in the 10th inning.
Benoit hasn’t pitched since April 8 because of lingering soreness in his back and shoulder, which surfaced in spring training. Club officials are hopeful he can return to duty this weekend’s series in New York.
When reliever Tony Zych registered a strikeout in his only inning Tuesday, it boosted his career count to 34 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings over his 17 appearances.
That averages out to 12.58 strikeouts per nine innings and is the highest career average in franchise history for any pitcher who has worked at least 10 innings. Right-hander Carson Smith ranks second at 11.72 in 78 1/3 innings.
An informal twitter poll Tuesday overwhelmingly identified an inability to score runs as the biggest concern among fans through the club’s 2-5 start.
With more than 600 participants, a whopping 75 percent cited the lack of run production as their biggest concern. The Mariners scored just seven runs while losing their first four home games.
The bullpen finished second in the early polling at 15 percent. while the rotation had 6 percent, and the defense had 4 percent.
It was 26 years ago Wednesday — April 13, 1990 — that the Mariners recorded their first sellout in franchise history as a crowd of 54,874 packed the Kingdome for the home opener against Oakland.
It didn’t go well.
The Athletics scored five runs in the first inning and had a 12-1 lead after four innings en route to a 15-7 victory.
Lefty reliever Charlie Furbush reported no day-after problems from his Monday workout, which marked his first throwing session since undergoing a series of blood injections in hopes of accelerating the healing process in his ailing left shoulder…Nelson Cruz’s homer Monday in the eighth inning was the 30th that he’s hit in the seventh inning or later since the start of the 2014 season. That leads the majors…right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma turned 35 on Tuesday.
The Mariners close out their first homestand at 12:40 p.m. Wednesday when they conclude a three-game series against Texas at Safeco Field. Right-hander Taijuan Walker (0-0, 3.00) will face Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin (1-0, 4.50).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday before opening a three-city, nine-game trip Friday with the first of three weekend games against the Yankees in New York. The trip continues with three-game series at Cleveland and Anaheim.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners
MARINERS FRANCHISE LEADERS IN STRIKEOUTS PER NINE INNINGS
(Minimum 10 career innings)
Tony Zych (2015-16) 24 1/3 innings 12.58 SO/9
Carson Smith (2014-15) 78 1/3 innings 11.72 SO/9
Chance Ruffin (2011-13) 23 2/3 innings 11.41 SO/9
Steve Delabar (2011-12) 43 2/3 innings 10.92 SO/9
Scott Atchison (2004-05) 37 1/3 innings 10.85 SO/9
Oliver Perez (2012-13) 82 2/3 innings 10.67 SO/9
Randy Johnson (1989-98) 1,838 1/3 innings 10.58 SO/9
Danny Farquhar (2013-15) 177 2/3 innings 10.54 SO/9
Josh Kinney (2012) 32 innings 10.13 SO/9
Carter Capps (2012-13) 84 innings 10.07 SO/9