Mariners add seven September callups, more coming
Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker and veterans Justin Smoak and Corey Hart were among seven players added by the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday as the 25-man roster was supplemented by September call-ups.
Teams are allowed to expand their roster for the final month of the regular season and the Mariners took advantage by returning Hart from his Minor League rehab assignment and recalling four others who’d been with the club earlier this year in Smoak, Walker, outfielder Stefen Romero and left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge.
The club also selected catcher Humberto Quintero and right-handed reliever Carson Smith, two players who had to be added to the 40-man roster in order to join the big-league club. To make room on the 40-man roster, utility man Willie Bloomquist was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL and infielder Jesus Montero was placed on the suspended list.
Two more pitchers – starters James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez – are expected to be added as well, but those two have to wait until Tacoma plays its final game on Monday since they were optioned to Triple-A last week. Players who have been optioned must spend 10 days in the Minors, or wait until that team’s season ends, before being recalled.
Paxton is scheduled to start Tuesday’s game in Oakland and he was sent down strictly to open a spot for Ramirez and then for outfielder James Jones as the Mariners did some roster maneuvering last week. Outfielder Michael Saunders is another who will likely be added, but he’s still recovering from an illness that has sidelined him for more than a week.
Walker went 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts for the Mariners this season, but has spent most of the year with Tacoma, where he went 6-4 with a 4.81 ERA in 14 starts after a late arrival due to shoulder issues.
Hart hit .273 with three home runs and five RBIs in nine rehab starts while returning from a bruised right knee that sidelined him on Aug. 1. The two-time National League All-Star has been trying to get healthy all year after missing 2013 with two microfracture knee surgeries. He’s hit .203 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 58 games for Seattle since signing a one-year deal in free agency last winter.
Romero and Smoak have both been swinging hot bats of late. Romero hit .390 with 21 runs, nine home runs and 27 RBIs in 25 games since being optioned to Tacoma on Aug. 1. For the year, he’s hit .358 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs for the Rainiers after splitting time with Seattle.
Smoak has hit .447 with six doubles, one home run and 18 RBIs over his past 21 games for the Rainiers. Smoak was sent down by the Mariners in July after losing his starting job at first base to Logan Morrison, but he was back in the lineup Monday for Seattle’s series opener with the A’s in Oakland.
Luetge is another who has split time between Seattle and Tacoma this season, going 3-2 with a 3.32 ERA in 43 appearances for the Rainiers.
Quintero and Smith are making their first appearances with Seattle this year. Quintero, 35, is a veteran catcher who hit .290 in 73 games with Tacoma and gives Seattle some depth behind Mike Zunino and Jesus Sucre. Smith, 24, earned his first Major League promotion after posting a 2.93 ERA with 10 saves in 39 appearances for Tacoma.