MINNEAPOLIS — Before Sunday’s game, manager Lloyd McClendon hinted that the Mariners would likely make a roster move to call up hot-hitting infielder Nick Franklin from Class AAA Tacoma in the coming days.
By the end of the game, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Franklin will be joining the Mariners on Monday in Dallas and be in uniform for Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers. Team officials and McClendon couldn’t comment on the record, but the move is going to happen.
So what happened to force this decision?
It started with Corey Hart limping off the field with the help of trainer Rob Nadine in the fourth inning of Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins.
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With Robinson Cano on third base, Hart decided to steal second since Twins’ starter Ricky Nolasco was ignoring him at first base. With no outs, Hart wanted to get into scoring position for Justin Smoak and take the double play out of the equation. He had the green light and decided to go. He got such a big jump that catcher Kurt Suzuki didn’t even attempt a throw.
But three steps from the second-base bag, Hart felt his left hamstring grab and tighten. He made an awkward slide into second base.
“I felt something,” he said. “Other than my knee injuries, I’ve never had any problem with my legs. It didn’t feel normal. I knew right away I needed to come off.”
Hart caught a flight back to Seattle and will be re-evaluated Monday by team doctors and undergo an MRI exam.
“It didn’t look good,” McClendon said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Hart tried to remain upbeat.
“I’ve never had one before so I’m not really sure what to expect,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s just a little strain.”
But it doesn’t seem likely to be just a few days. Hamstring strains are not fast-healing injuries and can be made worse if not rested. The Mariners have been careful with Hart’s health since spring training. It’s unlikely they will be cavalier during the season.
Before the game, McClendon said the there had been discussions with general manager Jack Zduriencik about calling Franklin back up. He leads the Pacific Coast League in hitting at .376 (41 for 109) and has seven doubles, seven homers, 26 runs batted in and a 1.114 on-base plus slugging percentage.
“Obviously we need offense and he’s certainly an option,” McClendon said. “Jack and I have talked about it. We’ll see where we are in the next few days. But for him to be able to play a lot of different positions, I said it before it’s important. If he’s going to be here right now, he’s going to have to move around.”