Taylor, Montero up from Tacoma and in lineup
Shortstop Chris Taylor, last year’s Mariners Minor League Player of the Year, and designated hitter Jesus Montero were called up from Triple-A Tacoma in time to start Thursday night’s series opener with the Orioles at Safeco Field.
Taylor, 23, was selected from Tacoma and added to the 40-man roster, while Montero was recalled for the second time this season.
Veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist was placed on the 15-day disabled list to open one 25-man roster spot, while the club already had another opening after optioning Taijuan Walker back to Tacoma after Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Mets.
Montero’s stay may be short as the club will need to make another roster move Friday with the arrival of designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales, who was acquired by trade from the Twins on Thursday. But Taylor figures to be given a shot at shortstop, where general manager Jack Zduriencik said his right-handed bat is a key addition to a club with so many left-handed hitters.
Taylor will hit ninth in Thursday’s game against the Orioles in his Major League debut. In 75 games with Tacoma, he was second in the Pacific Coast League in hitting at .328 and had 63 runs scored, 22 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 37 RBIs.
“You really have to tip your hat to this kid,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. “This was player of game at the Triple-A All-Star game. What he did last year was terrific. He’s a kid who deserves a chance right now. He has opportunity to help us and gives us window to see him.”
Brad Miller beat out Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop job in Spring Training, but has hit just .205 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 86 games. Miller has hit .261 in his last 32 games, but Zduriencik said Taylor will be given a chance to compete for playing time.
“The whole infield is left-handed,” Zduriencik said. “The fact he’s right-handed was really a factor in this decision. He’s a Triple-A All-Star, what he did last year was terrific and we’ll see. Let the best man play.”
Taylor went 3-for-3 with two doubles in the recent Triple-A All-Star Game to earn Top Star honors for the PCL.
Montero, 24, hit .286 (4-for-14) with one home run and two RBIs in five games in his previous stint with Seattle last month. He is batting .310 with 23 doubles, 15 home runs and 69 RBIs in 80 games with the Rainiers, including a .420 average with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 21 games since being optioned back to Tacoma on June 25.
Zduriencik made no promises about Montero’s long-term chances, given Morales’ pending arrival, but he was in the lineup Thursday at DH and batting sixth.
“Let’s hope he’s a contributor,” Zduriencik said. “He’s here tonight, we’ll see what happens and we’ll see postgame.”
Bloomquist, 36, was injured while running out an RBI grounder in the eighth inning in Wednesday’s loss on a play where he originally was ruled safe, before the call was overturned on a replay. In 47 games this season he is batting .278 while playing seven different positions.
With Taylor’s addition, the 40-man roster is now at 39 players, with two pitchers — Danny Hultzen and James Paxton — on the 60-man disabled list.