PEORIA, Ariz. – Nick Franklin likes to joke that according to the Twitter-fueled and rumor-driven baseball hot stove, he’s been “traded 20 times by the Mariners.”
Well, he might want to change that to 21.
On Tuesday, another team was added as a possible destination for the Mariners infielder.
CBS Sports reported that the Tampa Bay Rays have contacted the Mariners about acquiring Franklin. On Monday, it was the New York Mets.
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“I’ve heard it,” Franklin said. “I’m not completely oblivious. It’s human nature to want to look at it. But I usually try not to worry about it.”
This isn’t anything new for Franklin. He was actually traded, along with Taijuan Walker, Stephen Pryor and another player to Arizona for outfielder Justin Upton before the 2013 season. However Upton exercised his no-trade clause and the deal fell apart.
Franklin was called up by the Mariners last May 27 and appeared in 102 games. He hit .225 with 20 doubles, 12 homers and 45 runs batted in.
Still, he became a man without position when the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract in the offseason.
The Mariners have told Franklin that he’s in an open competition with Brad Miller for the shortstop position. Franklin has relished the competition, coming into camp stronger and intent on showing he can handle the defensive requirements of the position.
The Mets would be looking at Franklin as a shortstop. Their incumbent — Ruben Tejada — came into spring training woefully out of shape and was less than stellar last season.
The Rays would likely use Franklin as a second baseman, paired with shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Seattle could use starting pitching or outfield help.
The Rays rumors broke when Franklin was participating in the Mariners’ intrasquad game Tuesday. He had two at-bats in the game and lashed a two-run homer to right-center off left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney.
Franklin isn’t going to worry about what happens.
“I’m a Seattle Mariner,” he said. “And I’m on the Seattle Mariners until someone tells me that I’m not.”
Mariners prevail in intrasquad game
In the first real baseball action of the spring, the Mariners prevailed with a 4-3 victory over … the Mariners.
Manager Lloyd McClendon scheduled the intrasquad game, which featured mostly young players. The teams played 4½ innings.
“I saw some good things, I saw some bad things,” McClendon said. “That’s expected. We’ll build on the strengths and work on the weaknesses.”
McClendon doesn’t need to build on the strength of Jabari Blash. The slugging minor-league outfielder, who hit a combined 25 homers in Class A High Desert and Class AA Jackson, provided the highlight of the game, crushing a mammoth solo homer to left field off reliever Logan Bawcom.
Stefen Romero showed power, too, blasting a two-run homer to center field in the first inning off lefty Anthony Fernandez.
Jesus Montero had two hits in the game, but was thrown out trying to turn a line drive down the left-field line into a double.
Stearns sidelined by hernia surgery
John Stearns wasn’t going to let a little something like major surgery keep him away from the ballpark.
The Mariners’ third-base coach underwent surgery to repair a hiatal hernia Monday at Arrowhead Hospital. On Tuesday, he wandered into the Mariners clubhouse around noon, wanting to see what was going on.
“I’m doing pretty well,” Stearns told Mariners staffers.
Stearns will not be allowed to participate in baseball activities for four to six weeks. McClendon said he and general manager Jack Zduriencik are meeting to discuss internal options for the third-base coaching spot.
Walker plays long toss
Walker’s slow progression toward preparing himself for the regular season included long toss Tuesday morning. Walker played catch from about 100 feet with Mariners trainer Rick Griffin and pitching coach Rick Waits watching closely.
“It went good,” McClendon said. “He’s scheduled to long toss again (on Wednesday).”
Walker was bothered by shoulder soreness early in camp. The Mariners and Walker have continued to say that everything is fine and there are no major structural issues in the shoulder.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish