ATLANTA — It was a roster move and a reminder.
On Tuesday, the Mariners recalled pitcher Erasmo Ramirez from Class AAA Tacoma to start against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.
That move was expected.
But the roster move to make room for Ramirez was somewhat surprising. The Mariners optioned infielder Nick Franklin back to Tacoma for the second time this season.
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Franklin had struggled since being called up May 20, hitting just .129 (4 for 34) with 15 strikeouts. In two separate stints with the Mariners this season, he’s hitting .128 (6 for 52) with 21 strikeouts and one extra-base hit. It’s a stark contrast to the numbers he has put for the Rainiers. Franklin was hitting .376 with a 1.114 on-base plus slugging percentage when he was called up.
So what has been the problem at the major-league level?
“I don’t have the answer,” McClendon said. “I really don’t. I wish I did have an answer for you. He was striking out at an alarming rate. This is a game of adjustments, particularly at this level, and you’ve got to make adjustments.”
McClendon’s message to Franklin was simple.
“I just told him to go down and play and if you get an opportunity to come back, when you get that opportunity, you’ve got to produce,” he said.
His message wasn’t just for Franklin, but the entire team.
“It’s one of the messages I’m trying to send to every individual in our organization,” McClendon said. “This is not a country club. You have to have positive results here. That’s just the way it is. Some people think we are tough or we are (expletive) or we don’t like players, for me all that stuff goes right out the window.”
But McClendon wasn’t finished. He grew more emphatic with each sentence.
“There’s only two people that get a win or a loss — that’s the pitchers and the manager,” he said. “I’d be a fool if I didn’t put the best people out there who I think help me win games. Like or dislike has nothing to do with it. If you can help me win, I like you. It’s just that simple. That’s just the way it is. That’s the message I sent in spring training. I will continue to send that message. I’ll love them. I’ll protect them. I’ll fight for them. But I love my family and I love my job and I want to keep it.”
When asked about players having long leashes in the past needing that message hammered home, McClendon shrugged it off.
“I don’t know what happened in the past,” he said. “I really don’t care. I’m done apologizing for the past. I’m just moving forward and I want to win baseball games and I’m going to take those players along with me that will help me win those games. It’s that simple. I don’t know about the leashes or any of that stuff and I really don’t care. All I care about is now. We’ve got to win.”
• After banging out two triples, a double and a homer in Monday’s win over the Yankees, McClendon moved Kyle Seager into the clean-up spot and sent slumping Justin Smoak down a spot.
Since getting his average up to .252 on May 6, Smoak has steadily dropped. He has four hits in his last 31 at-bats and his average has dropped to .217.
“Smoak is in a little bit of a funk right now and hopefully he’ll come out of it soon,” McClendon said. “I just think he needs to be a little more aggressive, attack a little earlier in the count more.
“When you are not feeling good, the worst thing you can do is get one swing per at-bat. It’s hard to hit that way. Sometimes you just have to let it fly. I think he’s been a little too careful right now.”
Seager is in anything but a funk.
He raised his OPS to .861. Since April 23, he’s hitting .328 (43 for 131) with eight doubles, three triples, nine homers and 34 runs batted in.
“He’s starting to do pretty good,” McClendon said. “He’s too good to be a .260 hitter. I think this is guy is a .280 to .290 (hitter) with some power that can drive in runs.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish