Outfielder Jones, first baseman Montero recalled, while catcher Baron and pitcher Ramirez were added to 40-man roster.
With Class AAA Tacoma’s season coming to an end, the Mariners added four players from the Rainiers’ roster to their active roster for the remaining four weeks of the season.
Outfielder James Jones and first baseman Jesus Montero were recalled from the Rainiers, while catcher Steve Baron and pitcher J.C. Ramirez had their minor-league contracts selected and added to the 40-man roster. With their roster at 39 coming into Tuesday, the Mariners had to open another spot to make room. They transferred left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush to the 60-day disabled list.
Catcher Mike Zunino and shortstop Chris Taylor were not recalled. Instead they will report to the Mariners’ spring-training facility in Peoria for individual instruction, followed by games in the fall instructional league, starting Sept. 16. Zunino hit .174 with 11 homers and 28 RBI and 132 strikeouts in 112 games this season.
“It was an organizational decision to send Mike to instructional league to continue to work on the things he needs to work on as far as his offense is concerned,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “and not having him do it here in pressure situations where at-bats are so intense and the pressure of winning games is there.”
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This doesn’t change Zunino’s standing in the organization.
“Mike is still very much in our future,” McClendon said. “Going into spring training next year, I will consider him my everyday catcher. We thought this was the best path moving forward for his career.”
And that’s a decision that McClendon and acting general manager Jeff Kingston had to wrestle with.
“You have to balance,” McClendon said. “Sitting in this chair or the chair upstairs, you have to balance what’s right for the individual and what’s right for the organization not only for today but an eye for the future as well. That’s what we tried to do.”
Zunino is going down to work on retooling his swing. Snyder will be doing the teaching, but Edgar Martinez will monitor video of the sessions and also fly to Arizona on off days to check in on Zunino.
“When he goes down there, it’s going to be physical changes he’ll make to his swing or attempt to make to his swing,” McClendon said. “It’s awful hard to try to do it here at this level when you are facing good pitching day in and day out. The pressure of failing at this level is tough. When you are in instructional league and doing it in live games there with no pressure to succeed or fail, you can get better at things.”
Zunino had made some changes to his swing and stance, and there were some positive results that followed at the end of July. But he reverted to old form in the final month. It’s the reason he was optioned down to Tacoma.
“Once you get in that box and you are facing guys that are throwing 97 to 98 mph, and you are trying to think about these changes you have to make, it’s very difficult to do,” McClendon said. “We are going to try and slow things down for him and get him in situations where he can move forward one step at a time, instead of one step forward and then two back.”
Jones gives them a pinch-runner and a defensive replacement for Brad Miller. Montero is another right-handed bat available against the run of left-handed hitters, particularly with Nelson Cruz and Franklin Gutierrez battling injuries. Ramirez is a hard-throwing right-hander the Mariners want to evaluate at the big-league level. Baron gets the call because he’s a solid defensive catcher and the team needs to carry three catchers this time of year.
Probables and Paxton
The Mariners announced that Vidal Nuno will get the start on Wednesday vs. the Rangers.
“We were seeing about his workload of the bullpen before making that decision,” McClendon said.
The original plan was for James Paxton to start Monday instead of Taijuan Walker. They were either going to skip Walker or give him some extra rest. But Paxton tore the nail on his middle finger last week and wasn’t able to throw all weekend. The hope is that he can go Sunday.
“He’s a definite possibility,” McClendon said. “It depends on how he progresses over the next few days.”
Paxton had the finger taped up and played catch before batting practice. “It’s feeling pretty good,” he said. “It (the nail) is starting to stick back down to my finger. That’s a good sign.”
Paxton is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Thursday, which McClendon said is mandatory to make the start on Sunday.