Endy Chavez returning on Minor League deal

A familiar face will be returning to Mariners camp this spring as veteran outfielder Endy Chavez, who played 97 games for Seattle last year, has agreed to return to the club on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp, according to a baseball source.

Chavez, 36, hit .267 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 266 at-bats and led all Mariners with a .295 batting average at Safeco Field last season.

The Venezuelan native is a 13-year Major League veteran with a career .269./.307/.364 line and has played for the Royals, Expos, Phillies, Mets, Rangers and Orioles, as well as a previous stint with Seattle in 2009.

Chavez’s 97 games last year were his most since 2008 with the Mets as he filled in at all three outfield positions after injuries to Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Morse created playing time. He also hit .357 (5-for-14) as a pinch hitter, including a home run at Cleveland on May 20.

Chavez had a pair of eight-game hitting streaks during the season and also finished third on the team in outfield assists with four.

Chavez figures to provide added depth in the Mariners outfield competition. The club has returnees Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders, Franklin Gutierrez and Abraham Almonte, plus new additions Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. But Hart and Morrison are both returning from knee injuries, so it’s not certain yet how much outfield they will play. Both are capable of playing first base and designated hitter as well.

Utility man Willie Bloomquist, who signed a two-year Major League contract as a free agent, is also capable of playing the outfield.

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