In need of position player depth, Seattle brought up Andreoli and optioned Dan Altavilla back to Tacoma
OAKLAND — With Mitch Haniger’s right wrist hurting, Jean Segura’s left shoulder ailing and Nelson Cruz’s left elbow recovering, the Mariners had no choice but to make a roster move on Wednesday afternoon to make sure they had enough position players to make it through the remaining two-game series with the A’s and possibly beyond.
Seattle selected the minor league contract of outfielder John Andreoli from Class AAA Tacoma and added him to the 40-man and active roster. To make room for Andreoli, right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla was optioned to Tacoma. The addition of Andreoli puts the Mariners’ 40-man roster full. But they can move pitcher David Phelps to the 60-day disabled list if they need to open another spot.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Andreoli said of the last 12 hours. “It’s still kind of sinking in. I’m just trying to focus on helping the team win tonight. But this an obviously a dream come true. It’s something I’ve been working for since I started playing the game. I was in shock and I even got a little teared up.”
Andreoli immediately called his parents in Boston.
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“Just for all they’ve done for me in the game and out of the game and all the sacrifices they made to go to little league practice and travel ball and all that, I wanted to let them know,” he said. “Even though it was 1:30 in the morning, it was great to talk to them. It was an awesome feeling.”
Andreoli’s father, also named John, a former NFL football player, hopped on a 6 a.m. flight to get to Oakland.
The Mariners put Andreoli in the starting lineup in right field in place of Haniger and batting eighth in the order. It will be his big league debut. Both Segura and Cruz were in the starting lineup.
“I’m excited for anyone to get their big league debut,” manager Scott Servais said. “We’ll fire him right out there tonight and hopefully he can help us out. If you’ve been around John at all in spring training, he plays with a football mentality. He’s a very intense dude.”
Andreoli’s father was a standout at Holy Cross and later played for the Patriots, while his grandfather, Fran O’Brien, was a head baseball and basketball at Holy Cross and M.I.T.
“I’m here to help the team win however I can help,” Andreoli said. “If I’m in the lineup or if it’s to pinch run or as a defensive replacement, I don’t care. I just want to help the team win every day I’m here.”
Andreoli, 27, was hitting .294 (37 for 126) with seven doubles, two triples, three home runs and 20 RBI in 32 games with the Rainiers. He did have a disabled list from April 22-May 2 with a sprained finger on his throwing hand. Seattle signed him in the offseason as a minor league free agent. A standout at UConn, Andreoli was drafted — 17th round of the 2011 draft — and developed by the Cubs . He spent the last three seasons with Class AAA Iowa. He hit .244 with 24 doubles, eight triples, 14 homers and 26 stolen bases in 119 games with the I-Cubs last season.
Altavilla, 25, is 3-2 with four holds and a 3.24 ERA in 18 relief appearances with the Mariners this season. He recently returned from a brief stint on the disabled list with AC joint inflammation. Since the team was carrying eight relievers and he has minor league options remaining, he was the easiest player to send down.
*** Haniger said his right wrist was sore, but expected to return to the lineup on Thursday for the series finale. He hit in the cage before the game. Servais remained cautious about his health.
“Hanny feels better than expected,” Servais said. “Maybe tomorrow. We’ll see how he’s progressing. It certainly could be a lot worse. We got a little fortunate there.”
*** Servais wasn’t thrilled to see Segura sliding head first into home in Tuesday’s win. Segura jammed his left shoulder against the shin guard of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Most players are taught to avoid sliding headfirst into home for that very reason.
“It’s one of those instinctive plays,” Servais said. “Some guys are going to go headfirst. But you certainly don’t like to see it at home plate. He can really run and I don’t want to take his aggressiveness away, but in a perfect world, would you teach it that way? No. You’d like the guys to go in feet first to home plate. But I’m not going to say anything.”
Segura voiced his displeasure with how Lucroy blocked the plate on the play. Servais went back and looked at the replay a few times.
“The more you look at it, he did hover over the plate for a while, Servais said. “He was waiting for the ball to come in. The ball was on line. But it was a situation if Segura would’ve been called out, we certainly would’ve challenged it.”