Gamel will start on Wednesday night in left field and bat seventh. Ariel Miranda was optioned back to Class AAA Tacoma.
The Mariners moved one player closer to putting their expected every day lineup on the field when they activated outfielder Ben Gamel from the disabled list on Wednesday afternoon. He was immediately inserted into the lineup, starting in left field and batting seventh.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m ready roll. I feel like I’m 100 percent. I’m ready to get out there and play some games.”
As expected, pitcher Ariel Miranda was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma after starting for Seattle on Tuesday night in a 4-1 loss to the Astros.
Gamel’s return from a grade 2 oblique strain suffered in spring training is sooner than expected. The Mariners had originally thought he would be out until early May. But Gamel was back playing in games on a rehab assignment on April 5. In 10 games — five each with High-A Modesto and Class AAA Tacoma — he totaled 10 hits in 35 at-bats with two doubles, eight walks and five RBI.
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“My swing felt really good right out of the gate and then it didn’t feel good a couple days later,” he said of the rehab results. “It was just getting my timing back and swinging at my pitches and recognizing the pitches in the strike zone.”
The Mariners currently have five outfielders on the roster. Dee Gordon is the everyday centerfielder and Mitch Haniger is locked into the right field spot. Meanwhile, Gamel and Guillermo Heredia will basically platoon in left field with Ichiro apparently getting occasional playing time.
“Ben’s going to play,” Servais said. “He had a nice season for us last year. We’ll take it day-to-day and matchup-wise where it goes from there. We’re carrying five outfielders and it’s a little bit different and we’ll let you know when it changes. I want to keep Heredia playing. He’s done a nice job for us. There may be a spot start against a righty, but primarily he’ll play against left-handed pitching.
Gamel is coming off a strong rookie season in 2017 where he played in 134 games, hitting .275 with 27 doubles, five triples, 11 homers and 59 RBI. But he did drop off significantly in the final months of the season as team’s began to game plan and shift for him.
“A lot of people didn’t know a lot about Ben Gamel, you don’t pay a lot of attention to him and then all of the sudden he’s one of the leaders in the league in hitting there for a while,” Servais said. “Once he started getting more attention, people started pitching him a little differently toward the end of the season. I think you find out a lot about players when that happens.”
Miranda’s demotion to Tacoma means the Mariners will need another No. 5 starter on Sunday in Texas. They are expected to activate Erasmo Ramirez (lat strain) to make that start. Ramirez pitched 5 2/3 innings for Class AAA Tacoma on Tuesday night, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
“He threw the ball very well last night,” Servais said. “He’s completely healthy and did a nice job for them last night.”
*** Mike Zunino (oblique strain) was scheduled to catch eight or nine innings for High-A Modesto on Wednesday night. If he has no issues or setbacks, he’ll be ready to join the Mariners. Because Seattle has a day game on Thursday to wrap up the series with the Astros, Zunino will likely meet the team in Dallas for the upcoming road trip that starts on Friday vs. the Rangers.
*** Ryon Healy (right ankle sprain) will begin a rehab stint in the coming days with either Class AAA Tacoma or Class AA Arkansas. Healy is working through his final stages of his running progression to be cleared. He was eligible to return from the disabled list on Wednesday.