The Mariners also swapped back-up catchers, bringing in veteran Chris Herrmann to replace David Freitas.
Usually the Mariners’ clubhouse is a quiet place on Sunday mornings. A large group of players retreat to chapel services and the others are just trying to adjust the early wake-ups that they loathe. And after playing 12 innings late into Saturday night in a walk-off win, it would be logical to assume that the atmosphere would have been sleepy and reserved again.
Instead, a myriad of roster moves and transactions on Sunday morning brought new faces and plenty of energy to Safeco Field. The clubhouse was bustling with unpacking, introductions and activity.
“Busy morning,” manager Scott Servais said.
Some of the moves were expected, but others came as a surprise as the Mariners continue this extended homestand. Here’s a list of the official moves:
- Alex Colomé, RHP, reports to club.
- Dan Altavilla, RHP, recalled from AAA Tacoma.
- Chris Herrmann, C, selected from AAA Tacoma.
- David Freitas, C, optioned to AAA Tacoma.
- Nick Vincent, RHP, placed on 10-day disabled list with strained right groin.
- Daniel Vogelbach, INF, optioned to AAA Tacoma.
- Taylor Motter, INF, designated for assignment.
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After being acquired in a trade with the Rays on Friday along with outfielder Denard Span, Colomé made his way across the country on Saturday and was excited to join his new team. His locker was positioned near fellow Dominican Juan Nicasio and near closer Edwin Diaz, which wasn’t happenstance.
“Those guys are really nice and they are doing a great job,” Colomé said. “We can be a good team with me and those guys.”
With Diaz having thrown four out of the last five games, Colomé was scheduled to handle closing duties if needed on Sunday. But on most occasions, he will be the eighth-inning set-up man to Diaz.
“I don’t have any problem with that,” he said. “I can pitch anywhere. For me, it’s not hard. It’s baseball. It’s doing the job, trying to help the team and be a good teammate.”
To make room for Colomé, Vogelbach was sent back to Tacoma as the Mariners moved back to an eight-man bullpen.
The bullpen also got a fresh arm in Altavilla, who replaced the injured Vincent.
Altavilla was in the midst of warming up for a two-inning appearance for Tacoma on Saturday night at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. The catcher had just thrown the ball down to second and the inning was about to begin when longtime Rainiers trainer Tom Newberg appeared from the dugout and removed Altavilla after getting a call from the Mariners.
“If he would have made his appearance, he wouldn’t be here today,” Servais said.
Vincent is expected to be out at least two weeks, if not longer. He suffered a strained right groin on Saturday night and was removed from the game.
“It’s something he’s dealt with before he got here to Seattle,” Servais said. “I don’t think it’s that bad. He said in 2009 that it was something that he had and tried to pitch through. It didn’t get better, it made it worse. So when he felt it last night, he realized this was an issue and let’s shut it down right now. Hopefully it’s a couple of weeks. But you never know. Pitchers use their legs a ton when they come off the mound. But I’m optimistic it will only be a couple of weeks. He’s been throwing the ball outstanding.”
Over Vincent’s last 13 outings, he is 2-1 with five holds and a 2.13 ERA with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 12 2/3 innings pitched.
The move to swap out back-up catchers seemed curious at first. But the Mariners felt that Herrmann, who was signed to a minor league deal just after the season started, would provide a little more offense than Freitas.
“David has done a nice job for us,” Servais said. “He’s done what we expected him to do. We are just kind of looking for a little more offense. He’s a left-handed bat with some versatility. He can stand at first base and he can go into the outfield. That was the thought behind that move.”
Herrmann, 30, was hitting .266 (33 for 124) with a .424 on-base percentage, two doubles, a triple, six home runs, 22 RBI and 34 walks in 37 games with the Rainiers. He had reached base in his last 18 games. And as a left-handed hitter, he provides some balance to the roster. Herrmann served as a back-up with the Twins and Diamondbacks over parts of six seasons. He’s appeared in 304 big league games and has a career .202 batting average.
“I got DFA’d with two days left in camp,” he said. “I wasn’t really sure I was going to get another job. I was sitting at home with my family for a week and a half. Thankfully the Mariners gave me a call and said they were interested in me and gave me a shot to play again. I’m very thankful for the opportunity the organization has given me. Hard work paid off. I went there and tried to take care of business and it’s gotten me here again.”
With Mike Zunino having caught 12 innings and hitting the walk-off homer on Saturday night, the Mariners put Herrmann into the starting lineup immediately.
“I just found out from Servais like 20 minutes ago,” he said. “That’s going to be the hardest part is getting to know all the pitchers and what their arsenals are and how they like to attack hitters.”
Servais wasn’t too concerned.
“Just go play,” he said. “I’ve been in that spot before. You walk into the ballpark on a day game and you’re in the lineup. Just go play. I think these guys that bounce between Triple A and the big leagues are used to it. You get with Mike Leake and you get with Zunino, who is a big factor to get you up to speed. And then you just go play and trust your instincts.”
The decision to designate Motter for assignment was building in the past weeks. Because of his versatility and ability to play shortstop at the big league level, and his relatively cheap contract, he will almost certainly be claimed off waivers. So why risk losing him? The Mariners have slowly moved on from Motter, who hasn’t done anything to help himself in the eyes of the front office and big league coaching staff.
After using Motter as the primary utility player for most of last season, the Mariners went out and acquired veteran Andrew Romine to specifically serve as the utility player on the big league club instead of Motter. While Motter is younger, cheaper, has more power potential and probably more value, the Mariners like Romine because he was a switch hitter and “low maintenance” as a teammate by comparison. Motter had reputation of grating on teammates and coaches when he was with Tampa, he did little to change that it in his time with the Mariners, possibly making it worse.
When Robinson Cano was injured in Detroit and the Mariners decided to call up Gordon Beckham instead of Motter, who was hitting .185 with Tacoma at the time, he tweeted out of series of tweets — later deleted — to offer his thoughts on being snubbed. One of the emojis was of Pinocchio with a growing nose. Motter’s reaction to the Beckham call-up in the days after was also suboptimal, which irritated the organization even further.
Jean Segura was underwent concussion tests on Sunday morning after getting kicked in the head on Saturday night while sliding into second. Servais said that Segura had been cleared to work out on Monday and could be back in the Mariners’ starting lineup.