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A day after making his first start in the outfield for the Mariners, Nick Franklin is headed back to the minors.

As expected, the Mariners optioned Franklin to Class AAA Tacoma on Thursday. He will join the Rainiers in Las Vegas and see every-day playing time again after appearing in seven games for the Mariners.

The Mariners also optioned starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to Class A High Desert. According to sources, Ramirez’s move to the lower level isn’t a demotion but a way to keep him on his normal pitching rest. That would make his next start on Sunday.

Hisashi Iwakuma is scheduled to make a rehab start on Sunday with Tacoma.

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With the Mariners facing a three-city, 10-game trip next week, keeping Ramirez on his normal work rate could be important in case the Mariners need to call him back up.

Ramirez will likely make one start in Class A before being bumped up to Class AAA after Iwakuma’s rehab start.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said before Wednesday’s game that the club was exploring the possibility of making a change with Ramirez’s spot in the rotation. He said a lot of the decision had to do with the health of Iwakuma.

Ramirez is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA, and McClendon has been critical of him because he has struggled with his control. Ramirez turned in a quality start earlier this week, but McClendon still wasn’t too pleased after the game.

Franklin will get more consistent playing time with the Rainiers, and it’s expected that he will also see more time in the outfield.

Franklin, 22, played second base for the Rainiers before his promotion to the big leagues earlier this month. He made four starts at four positions (second base, third base, DH and right field) in his brief time with the Mariners. He went 2 for 16 at the plate, including an 0-for-13 stretch.

McClendon inserted Franklin into the starting lineup in right field Wednesday because he was looking for a spark.

Franklin said that playing in the outfield was “second nature” to him and that the position involved less thinking than playing in the infield.

He recorded one hit — a single — and didn’t have many balls hit his way. He also missed a cutoff throw on a ball hit down the right-field line in the third inning. Had he hit the cutoff man, the Mariners might have had a chance to throw out the runner at the plate.

“I just tried to get to it as fast as I could and get the ball in and I tried to get it in too quickly,” Franklin said. “I rushed the throw a little bit, but other than that it was good.”

McClendon said before Wednesday’s game that he was “comfortable” with Franklin in the outfield.

“He’s not a neophyte with the outfield,” McClendon said. “In fact, in spring training he looked real good in the outfield.”

McClendon added: “Listen, I was a catcher and I converted to the outfield. If I can play the outfield, anyone can play the outfield. Because I couldn’t run worth a damn.”

Outfielder Cole Gillespie has been selected — he wasn’t on the 40-man roster — from Tacoma. He gives the Mariners an experienced outfielder who is comfortable as a bench player. The Mariners are at 24 players today on their active roster. They will call up a reliever before the game Friday.

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