The Mariners returned some speed to their roster Monday, recalling outfielder James Jones from Class AAA Tacoma. Jones takes the place of Erasmo Ramirez, who was optioned to Tacoma after the game Sunday.
With three important games against the Blue Jays, followed by a series at Detroit and an interleague series at Philadelphia where the Mariners have to play by National League rules, Jones’ speed and athleticism could be a useful weapon for manager Lloyd McClendon.
“He can do a lot of things on defense and he can steal a base,” McClendon said. “He can steal a base when you know he’s going to steal a base. I thought that’s an important ingredient. That might help us win a ballgame. He certainly can roam the outfield and play some defense.”
With Austin Jackson now entrenched in center field, Jones will play the corner outfield positions. That shouldn’t be a problem because he played the corner outfield spots coming up the minor leagues. The conversion to center field happened in the past two seasons.
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How will McClendon handle the five outfielders?
“I’m not going to rotate anyone,” he said. “I’m going to play the guys that I play and James will fit in the defensive side of things and late in the games he can steal a base for us. But I doubt if he gets a lot of playing time.”
Jones was struggling when he was sent down to Tacoma. He was hitting .073 with 16 strikeouts in his last 12 games.
Jones used his time in Tacoma to start over again and refresh himself mentally and emotionally.
“It definitely gave me time to reset and draw things back,” he said. “I felt like I was pressing.”
Jones said he knows what led to his problems.
“Pitchers were just going out of the zone and I was chasing at pitches,” he said. “I know that as a hitter, you have to get a good pitch to hit and just keep it as simple as that. If I get a good pitch to hit, I’m going to put it in play and drive it. But I’m not going to do well with balls bouncing and out of the zone.”
It was his own doing and pitchers attacked it.
“I think I created that trend for me,” he said. “Early on in the season, I wasn’t chasing out of the zone. But once I started chasing, they definitely fed into it. And if they get me out that way, they aren’t going to change. They see it as, ‘Why throw a strike when he’s going to swing at pitches that aren’t strikes.’ ”
• Michael Saunders’ rehab stint with Class AAA Tacoma will be put on hold for a few days as he flies home to Colorado to be with his wife as she gives birth to the couple’s second child. Saunders flew out for Denver on Monday afternoon. “He’s really close,” McClendon said of Saunders being ready to return to the Mariners. “But we’ll have to push him back a few days.”
• Brad Miller got the start at shortstop Monday night. Chris Taylor, who has unseated Miller at the position, had started the past six games and is hitting .400 (18 for 45) since being called up July 24. “He’s playing for a couple of reasons,” McClendon said of Miller. “He needs to get some at-bats. My old skipper used to say that everybody needs to feel like a hero every now and then. … But more importantly, I need to give the kid (Taylor) a (rest). He’s been going at it, and I’m sure it’s been pretty emotional for him. It’s a good chance to get him off his feet.”