Franklin rejoins Mariners as Hart goes on DL
The Mariners opened a spot on the 25-man roster by placing designated hitter Corey Hart in the 15-day disabled list with a strained hamstring.
UPDATE: Manager Lloyd McClendon said Hart is expected to be out 4-6 weeks, which creates an interesting opening for a Mariners club that offered Kendrys Morales a $14.1 million qualifying offer last offseason, then signed Hart when Morales declined. With the Red Sox signing shortstop Stephen Drew on Tuesday, Morales is now the final unsigned player among the 14 who received qualifying offers last winter.
Franklin, 23, was inserted in the DH role for Tuesday night’s game, but McClendon acknowledged he’s not a typical DH and will play more shortstop and outfield in the coming days, as well as occasional second base when Robinson Cano goes at DH instead.
Franklin had the top batting average in the Pacific Coast League among qualified hitters at .376, with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in 30 games. The 2009 first-round Draft pick also leads the PCL with a .481 on-base percentage and is third in slugging percentage at .633.
Franklin was Seattle’s starting second baseman the last four months of last season, hitting .225 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs. But he lost that job when Seattle signed Robinson Cano, and he was then beat out by Brad Miller for the shortstop spot in Spring Training.
Miller has struggled for the first seven weeks of the season, hitting .154. Franklin played 15 games at shortstop at Tacoma, nine at second base, three at designated hitter and made his last two starts in the outfield.
He started one game in the outfield for the Mariners in an brief stint with Seattle earlier this season, but was sent back to Tacoma after hitting .125 (2-for-16), as general manager Jack Zduriencik said he needed more regular playing time.
Hart was placed on the 15-day disabled list after injuring his leg while stealing second base in the fourth inning of Sunday’s 6-2 victory over the Twins. Hart flew back to Seattle for tests on Monday and was diagnosed with a Grade 2 strain by Mariners Medical Director Dr. Edward Khalfayan.
A Grade 2 strain is in the intermediate range, with Grade 3 being the worst. Hart was hoping the injury would just be a “nuisance” rather than a lengthy issue, but the Mariners determined he needed to go on the 15-day DL, retroactive to Monday.
He’ll be eligible to come off the DL by June 3 when the club opens its next road trip in Atlanta, but McClendon indicated the injury won’t be close to having healed by then.
The two-time National League All-Star missed all of last season with the Brewers after undergoing microfracture surgeries on both knees. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract in free agency with Seattle, with up to another potential $4.65 million in bonuses based on his number of plate appearances.
Hart is hitting .209 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 37 games.