The Mariners decided to bring up Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia for the weekend series at Wrigley Field and perhaps beyond.
CHICAGO — Guillermo Heredia’s hopes of making his big-league debut this week seemed to have dimmed when he suffered a minor shoulder injury last Saturday. The versatile Cuban outfielder was supposed to join the Mariners earlier in the week for the two-game series in Pittsburgh as an additional position player for National League games, but a jammed shoulder seemed to thwart that possibility.
But after sitting out four games and getting healthy enough to play Thursday night for the Rainiers, the Mariners decided to bring up Heredia for the weekend series at Wrigley Field and perhaps beyond. To make room, left-handed pitcher David Rollins was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma.
“It’s his first time in the big leagues,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We want to get him comfortable. I think he’s a guy that can come in and defend late in the game, pinch hit, pinch run and we’ll get him some starts eventually.”
There is a chance Heredia could be up for only a handful of games and then return to Tacoma once the Mariners go back to a five-man starting rotation. But Servais wouldn’t speculate on that possibility.
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“We’ll see how it happens,” he said. “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We all know what week we’re in and things can change any minute with your roster as we get closer to the trading deadline.”
Heredia flew out late Thursday night after playing the first game of a doubleheader with the Rainiers. He was all smiles as he stepped on the grass at Wrigley Field — not a bad place to make your big-league debut.
“I’m really happy and glad to be here,” Heredia said through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “I’m fortunate that the organization saw the hard work that I was doing down there and I got the chance to come up.”
Heredia replaced Nelson Cruz in right field in the seventh inning and struck out in the eighth.
Heredia was signed to a free-agent contract just before spring training after a two-year hiatus from baseball as part of his defection from Cuba. He started the season with Class AA Jackson and played well enough to progress to the Rainiers.
He was hitting .340 (36 for 106) with five doubles, one triple, two home runs, 13 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 26 games with the Rainiers. In 58 games with Jackson, Heredia batted .293 with seven doubles, two triples, two homers and 34 RBI with a .405 on-base percentage.
“The reports have been good,” Servais said. “He’s probably been better than what we originally thought with the bat. He made some good adjustments in Double A and carried it over into Triple A and did a nice job in Tacoma.”
Offensively, he’s still working to adjust to higher-quality pitching. He doesn’t have much pop in his bat. He’s a singles and doubles hitter who will work counts and see pitches.
“The biggest adjustment has been the pitching,” he said. “Obviously, it’s different than Cuba. Here they focus more on fastball, changeup, and adjusting to that has been my biggest thing.”
From a defensive standpoint, Heredia is big-league ready. He can play all three outfield spots at a high level and is a good base runner.
“I wouldn’t say he’s a burner,” Servais said. “But he’s above average and the jumps and the instincts are outstanding, and that’s just as important as the raw speed.”
Rollins pitched in Wednesday night’s loss to the Pirates, giving up a three-run homer. With the Mariners using a four-man starting rotation because of off days, lefty Wade LeBlanc can pitch out of the bullpen, giving Seattle the option for an extra position player.
• Taijuan Walker (foot tendinitis) threw a bullpen session before Friday’s game.
“No pain. It felt good, said Walker, who will make a rehab start Monday at Cheney Stadium for Class AAA Tacoma.
• Nick Vincent (upper back strain) threw a bullpen session Thursday and felt good. He will throw another bullpen session Saturday. If that goes well, he will begin his rehab assignment with Tacoma and make at least two appearances before a return.
• Ketel Marte (mononucleosis) is feeling better and has been going to Safeco Field every day to work out and try to regain some of the strength and weight he’s lost. Servais said he’s ahead of where they thought he’d be. Marte is hitting in the cage, playing catch and doing some light cardio work.