BALTIMORE — The last 24 hours were a blurry mass of life changes, planning and travel, but the Mariners’ newest outfielders — Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia — arrived at Camden Yards on Friday afternoon ready to help out their team later that night.
Both players, who were acquired in separate trades on Thursday, were immediately inserted into the starting lineup — a place they will be often. Jackson was in center field and went 0 for 3 batting leadoff, while Denorfia got the start in right field and went 0 for 4.
“Obviously, you can see it gives us a lot more balance against a left-hander,” manager Lloyd McClendon said before the game. “It gives us more options and it gives us more options off the bench.”
Denorfia was the first to arrive at the stadium. He’d been up at 5 a.m. and flew across the country from San Diego. But he was filled with energy after meeting his new teammates.
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“I’m going on a couple hours’ sleep, but I feel like I had a pot of coffee just walking in here,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to getting off to a good start and a fresh start, too. There were a little bit of struggles this year, team-wise and personally, but none of that matters now.”
Jackson arrived about an hour later. While Denorfia knew being traded was a distinct possibility since he’d be a free agent after the season, Jackson wasn’t expecting it at all. He’d been the Tigers’ starting center fielder for the last five seasons. And teams in first place in their division don’t usually trade everyday starters. He was lifted in the seventh inning of Thursday’ afternoon’s game and received a standing ovation from the fans at Comerica Park.
“It was a little different,” he said. “I haven’t seen or been in situation like that. It was a little sad running off the field with your teammates out there and knowing what you’ve been through with them.”
Jackson wasn’t bitter about being traded from an almost guaranteed division winner to a team fighting to stay afloat for the second wild card.
“It’s a new chapter,” Jackson said. “I get to start fresh, to help a ballclub that is trying to advance. I like that challenge. I’ve always been somebody that is up for a good challenge, and I see this as one of those challenges.”
To make room on the 25-man roster, outfielder James Jones and Stefen Romero were optioned to Class AAA Tacoma.
• James Paxton has officially been slotted into the rotation. He will pitch Saturday. The Mariners will have to make a 25-and 40-man roster move when he’s activated from the 60-day disabled list. As far as the 25-man roster goes, the Mariners are carrying eight relievers on their staff. Teams don’t usually carry that many.
• Michael Saunders had hoped to go out on a rehab assignment Friday or Saturday, but that won’t happen. “He’s not ready to go out, not quite yet,” McClendon said. “I think we’ll re-evaluate him when we get home and see where we are.”