Veteran infielder Danny Espinosa said he's looking forward to a new start to his season with the Mariners after struggling with the Angels.
When veteran infielder Danny Espinosa got the call that the Mariners wanted to sign him, he was so excited that he went to Disneyland.
OK, so there was a little more to it than that.
The 30-year-old infielder lives in Santa Ana, Calif., a short drive from the famed amusement park, and already had made plans Saturday to go to Disneyland with his wife and 10-month-old son.
When the call from the Mariners came Saturday after a morning workout and hitting session, Espinosa decided to stick with the night’s schedule.
Most Read Sports Stories
- UW faces stark decision in USC-UCLA fallout — leave Pac-12 or be content in declining conference
- Analysis: USC and UCLA bolt for Big Ten. So what's next for UW and the rest of the Pac-12?
- Washington State athletics bracing for ripple effect caused by UCLA, USC joining Big Ten
- What's the key for Jarred Kelenic putting Tacoma in his rearview mirror for a return to Mariners? It's in the process
- Megan Rapinoe to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom next week
“My wife and I were excited to get the call, and then we took off and took him (to Disneyland) for a few hours to celebrate,’’ Espinosa said.
On Monday afternoon, Espinosa was at Safeco Field taking ground balls at second base before the Mariners’ game against the Red Sox, glad to be back in a major-league uniform after being designated for assignment by the Angels on July 16.
Espinosa was signed by the Mariners as part of a plan that also included sending utility infielder Taylor Motter to Class AAA Tacoma. Mariners manager Scott Servais said the team wanted the slumping Motter to play every day to get his bat back in order, something he couldn’t do at the major-league level.
So knowing Espinosa was available to handle the utility role, the Mariners signed him and sent down Motter.
The Mariners also put pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma on the 60-day disabled list. But that was simply a procedural transaction to add Espinosa, with manager Scott Servais noting Iwakuma has already been on the DL for more than 60 days (May 7).
“This doesn’t really affect Kuma’s situation at all,’’ Servais said. Iwakuma remains out indefinitely because of right-shoulder inflammation. Servais said Iwakuma is able to throw on flat ground from 140 feet but added that there is no timetable for when he will get back on a mound.
Espinosa hit .162 with six homers and 29 RBI with the Angels. But Servais said a fresh start might help him produce more like he did in six full seasons with the Washington Nationals, for whom he hit a combined 38 home runs in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
“Obviously he was not having a very good year,’’ Servais said. “That’s why he got released. But sometimes a change of scenery, different eyes on you, people throwing some things out at you can get you going again.’’
Servais said Espinosa will be in “a straight utility role,’’ able to play everywhere in the infield.
Espinosa said he’ll need to adjust to being a utility player, a role he has not held.
But he understands that is his role, unlike with the Angels where he became a platoon player this year after thinking he would be the full-time second baseman.
“It just was a different situation than I’ve ever been in,’’ he said. “That was kind of the first time I really platooned, so it was kind of a different situation and I didn’t now really what I was going to do going into the season.
“But you know here my role is going to be giving guys’ days off, coming in late, so I think mentally being able to prepare for that is a big thing, and to know my role here and being able to prepare for that is a big advantage.’’
Espinosa hasn’t played in a game since July 8 but said he thinks that may be a good thing to have had some time off and some distance from the struggles with the Angels.
“It’s just kind of a fresh start,” he said. “I look at these next two months as kind of a new beginning, kind of a start to my season.”