Triunfel was hitting .300 (51 for 170) with 29 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, four homers and 19 RBI in 44 games for Tacoma.
The Mariners continued re-shuffling their roster on Friday, calling up infielder Carlos Triunfel from Class AAA Tacoma and cutting loose utility man Robert Andino.
Andino was designated for assignment. The Mariners have 10 days to trade or release Andino, or outright his contract to the minors. Acquired in a winter trade with Baltimore for Trayvon Robinson, Andino was hitting just .184 (14 for 76).
Triunfel was hitting .300 (51 for 170) with 29 runs, 14 doubles, two triples, four homers and 19 RBI in 44 games for Tacoma. Triunfel was a September callup last season, appearing in 10 games. He was 5 for 22 (.227) with a pair of doubles.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge indicated Triunfel will play shortstop, second and even some third base.
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“He’s not going to play every day, but he’s going to get at least semi-regular playing time,” Wedge said.
There was speculation the Mariners originally intended to waive Andino, which would have potentially kept him on the roster for 48 hours, but had their hand forced when that news leaked out. Triunfel had flown to Reno with Tacoma on Friday and had to fly back to Seattle.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said Triunfel had earned the callup.
“With Robert Andino, we signed him this year to be a backup infielder,” he said. “We thought it would probably be a short-term deal. You just evaluate where you’re at, and where you’re going, and what you’re trying to accomplish. I think with Triunfel, and the things he’s done, he deserves a chance to be up here right in front of our eyes so we can watch this kid play.”
Triunfel was chosen over Nick Franklin, who is hitting over .300 in Tacoma. One factor is that Franklin is not on the 40-man roster, but defense also played into the decision, Zduriencik said.
“I think most people would tell you, at least right now, Carlos is a more accomplished shortstop,” Zduriencik said. “I think that was a key component in why we wanted him up here. We like (Franklin) quite a bit. I think Nick just needs to stay down there and continue to swing the bat.”
Wedge said the decision to send down Jesus Montero on Thursday was “a long process.” Catcher Jesus Sucre came up from Tacoma on Friday to replace Montero on the roster, and started the game against Texas.
“It’s not something we just started talking about,” Wedge said. “We’ve been trying to give him every opportunity we could, and still trying to protect him, still trying to get his bat going, still trying to take care of him physically.
“In the end, his bat — that’s the carrying tool. With as much time, effort, emotion and energy he had to put in behind the plate, it didn’t seem like we were putting him in the position to succeed offensively.”
Wedge said that Montero start off as the designated hitter in Tacoma but will work every day to learn first base. He’ll also catch once or twice a week, he said. It didn’t escape Wedge’s notice that Montero reported immediately to Tacoma when contractually he could have taken three days to do so.
“That does mean something that he did report right away,” he said. “I was proud of him for doing that.”
Zduriencik pointed out that other players who started as catchers have thrived at first base, including Paul Konerko.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen with Jesus, but more than anything else, this helps his versatility,” Zduriencik said. “It helps us evaluate where we are as an organization going into next year, and quite frankly the rest of this year. It allows this player to take a step back and get himself back on track offensively.”
Zduriencik added that there’s no timetable for Montero’s return to the majors.
“I wouldn’t do that. I don’t think that’s a fair thing to do. … He just has to play. It’s not an embarrassment to be in the big leagues and get sent back to Triple-A. This happens to many players.”
In a related move, Brad Miller — who many regard as the Mariners’ shortstop of the future, ahead of both Triunfel and Franklin — has been moved up from Class AA Jackson to Tacoma.