Span will see the bulk of the playing time in left fielder for the Mariners, but he'll also fill in some at center field
Denard Span arrived in the Mariners clubhouse on Monday morning and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup in left field and batting second in the order.
Acquired from the Rays along with Alex Colome in a trade on Friday, Span took some grief from his new teammates for taking an extra day to get to Seattle. Colome arrived on Saturday and picked up a save on Sunday in the Mariners’ 3-1 win over the the Twins. Outfielder John Andreoli was optioned to Tacoma to make room for Span on the 25-man roster.
“Nelson (Cruz) asked me if I drove here,” Span said. “It took me a few days to get here. I drove the Tesla.”
Joking aside, the Mariners, specifically general manager Jerry Dipoto, gave Span the extra day to get to Seattle because of the travel and family logistics. Span was born and raised in Tampa and was in the process of moving into a new house there when the trade occurred.
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“It’s been very busy,” he said. “It’s been chaos at our home in Tampa. We have a seven month old son too, so you throw that into the mix. I wanted to be here yesterday, but Jerry was so gracious to allow me to come a day later just so I could get things in order for my wife and family back home.”
Span was expecting to be traded by the Rays at some point this season. Given his contract — he was owed $11 million this season — with a $12 million mutual option for 2019, including a $4 million buyout, the Rays weren’t going to carry him all year.
“I know the position that Tampa Bay was in as far as rebuilding and trying to shed as much salary as they can,” he said. “I just didn’t feel like I’d be there the whole season unless we were playing well and we were playing better. In my mind, I had at least till the end of July to be home and be with my family.”
But about three hours before he was officially notified about the trade, his friend and new teammate Dee Gordon tipped him off that a deal could be in the works.
“I had a heads up,” Span said. “But you still don’t know until it officially happens.”
Gordon’s tip was right and Span was notified that he was going to be moving about as far away from Tampa as possible in MLB.
“It definitely was not easy when I first got the call and they told me I got traded to where, I was like, ‘come again?'” Span joked. “Once I got settled in and was able to process it, I got excited right away. This is an opportunity that, at this point in my career, I want to hopefully take advantage of. I just want to come in here and fit in with these guys. They already have a good ballclub here.”
Span will see the majority of playing time in left field meaning Ben Gamel will be the fourth outfielder.
“Denard is going to play,” Servais said. “It’s great to see Ben Gamel have a productive run. He’s been much better over the last couple of weeks. He had a good ballgame yesterday and Ben’s going to continue to play a lot. Guillermo (Heredia) has played a lot so you may see a situation where you get Denard and Ben in the game. I might give Guillermo the day off tomorrow. We’ll kind of look at pitching matchups and try to keep the guys going, but Denard Span is going to play. That’s why we acquired him.”
On days when Heredia doesn’t start in center field, Servais will use Span in center, which was his primary position in his career. He has played more than 1,000 big leagues games in center.
“I know he hasn’t played there this year, but he has a lot in his career,” Servais said. “We could also move Haniger over there, but I’d like to keep Mitch in right. And keep him locked in on his program.”
Gamel will also take groundballs at first base to give the Mariners some added versatility. He played there in handful of games last season.
*** Servais had two lineups written out for Monday afternoon’s game vs. the Rangers. The first lineup had Jean Segura back at shortstop and in the leadoff spot. The second lineup did not. Servais originally posted the first lineup in hopes that Segura would be cleared by team doctors before the game. He met with Segura in the clubhouse and Segura said he felt good and was ready to play.
“He always wants to play,” Servais said.
However, because Segura was in concussion protocol after being kicked in the head while sliding into second base on Saturday night, he had to pass the required tests to play. He apparently did not. About an hour before first pitch, the Mariners announced Segura was scratched from the lineup and Andrew Romine got the start at shortstop.
*** Infielder Taylor Motter is no longer with the Mariners organization. After being designated for assignment on Sunday by the Mariners, he was quickly claimed off waivers by the Twins on Monday. Motter was assigned to the Twins’ Class AAA team in Rochester. His DFA was a surprise, but not completely unexpected. Motter had fallen out of favor with the organization this season.
*** Centerfielder/second baseman Dee Gordon (injured toe) is expected to return from the disabled list on Thursday when he’s eligible to be activated. Gordon ran in the outfield grass on Sunday and had no issues with the toe. He took groundballs at second base before Monday’s game.
*** Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (offseason shoulder surgery) will throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday afternoon at Safeco Field as part of his throwing program. Who will hit against Iwakuma? Well, there’s a good chance that Ichiro, the special assistant to the chairman and former interim bench coach, will take some hacks against Iwakuma.