"It's a window of opportunity, and it doesn't stay open forever," manager Eric Wedge said.
Matt Tuiasosopo, a third-round draft pick in 2004 and a member of one of the most decorated families in the Puget Sound area, was released Thursday by the Mariners.
They made the move to clear space on the 40-man roster, necessitated by the addition of September call-up Cesar Jimenez, a left-handed reliever.
Tuiasosopo, 25, spent parts of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Mariners, playing 71 games and hitting just .176, with five home runs and 15 runs batted in. He played all four infield positions, left field and DH for the Mariners, and though his offensive numbers weren’t good, his athletic ability continued to make him an intriguing prospect.
He was a high-school All-American quarterback at Woodinville High School and was headed to the University of Washington, like his brother, Marques, until the Mariners drafted him.
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This year, the Mariners sent Tuiasosopo down during spring training. In 116 games with Tacoma, he hit .226 with 20 doubles, six triples, 14 homers and 77 RBI.
Manager Eric Wedge was blunt in his assessment of Tuiasosopo, and the decision to cut ties.
“I saw some things in spring that were interesting,” Wedge said. “I had a good talk with him. Unlike years past, we wanted him to have a chance to go down and play and get everyday at-bats. We felt that was the best thing for him and his career, and he didn’t take advantage of it. Obviously, there’s been so much opportunity here this year, but for whatever reason, he just wasn’t able to get himself going.”
Asked about Tuiasosopo’s potential, Wedge said, “You’re talking to the wrong guy. I’ve only seen him this spring. Like I tell all these guys, it’s a window of opportunity, and it doesn’t stay open forever. … The guys that step up are going to be given that opportunity. I think that’s what you’ve seen us do here.
“I saw some things I liked this spring, but it just wasn’t consistent. He needed to go down and work on it and focus on it. For whatever reason, it didn’t play out for him.”
Kelley, Gimenez added to roster
Besides Jimenez, the Mariners added right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley and catcher Chris Gimenez to their roster. Wedge says he’s planning on using all three. He’s particularly eager to get a look at Kelley, who has been out most of the season after elbow surgery.
“I want his arm to work good, and I want to see what kind of stuff he has,” Wedge said. “He’s not a veteran, but he’s been around a couple of years and has a little experience. We’ll see where he’s at.”
In 12 games with Tacoma, Kelley had a 1.84 ERA, striking out 15 in 14-2/3 innings while walking six. He said his velocity has not quite returned all the way. He topped out at 92 mph in his last outing.
“I’m still a few miles an hour away on my velocity, but the command and my slider is good,” he said. “I’m able to be effective. I would like to think any day now it will jump back up, but I know where it’s going now, and I’m feeling good with my command, so I don’t necessarily have to have it.”
Gimenez comes off the 60-day disabled list from an oblique injury.
“I’ll tell you what: He helps us a great deal, just in regards to game management,” Wedge said. “Knowing you have a guy that can go out there and catch, first, third, left, right.”
• Justin Smoak continued his rehab assignment in Tacoma on Thursday. “I’m just taking it day to day right now,” Wedge said. “I’m going to talk to Brownie (Rainiers manager Daren Brown) tonight, and go from there. He could be back as early as tomorrow (Friday, in Oakland) or he might get another day or two down there.”
• Wedge said the Mariners will stay in a six-man rotation, meaning Anthony Vasquez will get another start.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org