NEW YORK — Jarred Kelenic won’t face the team that drafted him and traded him to the Mariners.
On the anniversary of his MLB debut and hours before the Mariners were set to take on the New York Mets, Kelenic was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma before Friday’s series opener at Citi Field. It was one of eight roster moves made by the Mariners before the start of this three-city, 10-game road trip.
The other moves:
- Sergio Romo, RHP, reinstated from 10-day injured list.
- Steven Souza Jr., OF, selected from Triple-A Tacoma.
- Mike Ford, INF, reports to club.
- Adrian Sampson, RHP, claimed off waivers from Chicago-NL.
- Danny Young, LHP, optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
- Stuart Fairchild, OF, optioned to Triple-A Tacoma and designated for assignment.
- Yohan Ramirez, RHP, designated for assignment.
Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners’ president of baseball operations, said Thursday on his weekly radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM that roster moves were coming after a 2-5 homestand that sunk the Mariners to a 14-18 record.
Kelenic, 22, appeared in 30 games with the Mariners this season, posting a .140/.218/.291 slash line with two doubles, a triple, three home runs, 10 runs batted in, four stolen bases and nine walks.
“I don’t expect players to be happy when things like that don’t go their way,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s off to a rough start, but I would say he was very mature. He understands where he’s at. I think stepping back right now is the right thing, and he understands it. He wasn’t totally shocked.”
As Kelenic continued to struggle over the last dozen games, the Mariners started limiting his plate appearances vs. tough left-handed pitching in hopes that success vs. right-handed pitching could get him going. It didn’t happen.
“It just wasn’t free and easy,” Servais said.
Over his past 16 games played (12 starts), Kelenic posted a .105/.209/.211 slash line with a double, a homer, three RBI, five walks and 16 K’s in 43 PAs.
The strikeouts and his inability to hit with two strikes became a major issue. In two-strike counts, Kelenic had just three hits in 52 plate appearances, posting a .059/.077/.078 slash line with one walk and 36 strikeouts.
“We just felt like, he’s 22 years old, he’s got a lot of baseball in front of him, so let’s do the right thing for him and for our team right now and give him a chance to breathe,” said assistant general manager Justin Hollander, who was in New York to help make the roster moves. “Just give guys a chance to reset and feel good about what they’re doing. Get some positive results, get the momentum going back in the right direction. I think that he has higher aspirations for what kind of player he can be.”
This is the second time that Kelenic’s struggles at the MLB level have forced the Mariners to send him down to Tacoma for a reset to find his swing, approach and confidence.
After making his debut on May 13, 2021, he played in 23 games, posting a .096/.185/.193 with two doubles, two homers, six RBI, eight walks and 26 strikeouts. At the time of his demotion, he was mired in an 0-for-39 stretch (44 plate appearances) that included five walks and 17 strikeouts.
“His reaction last year was much different than it was today,” Servais said. “He has a much more mature understanding of where the team is and where he’s at. He wants to be a big part of this team. He knows he’s got to get going in the right direction.”
How long will Kelenic be in Tacoma?
“There’s not a timeline in mind,” Hollander said. “There’s not a day on the calendar, and he was adamant he didn’t want that either. He didn’t want to set a day on the calendar and say, ‘I’m gonna go down for X number of days and then I’ll be ready.’ He said, ‘I need to go down and I need to play and I need to rediscover that I’m good again. And I’ll be back and I’m really confident that I can go do that.'”
The 39-year-old Romo will provide some help in leverage situations. After two scoreless appearances, he was placed on the 10-day injured list (right shoulder inflammation) on April 13 (retroactive to April 12). The right-hander made one rehab appearance with Triple-A Tacoma, tossing an inning on May 10. In two appearances with Seattle this season, Romo is 0-0 with a 0.00 earned-run average (0 ER, 2.0 IP) with three strikeouts.
Souza Jr., 33, was penciled into right field for Friday’s starting lineup. He will see the bulk of the starts in that spot. He was batting .267 (20 for 75) with five doubles, five home runs, 17 RBI, three stolen bases and 19 walks in 22 games with Triple-A Tacoma this season. A native of Everett and Cascade High standout, Souza signed a split contract this season, meaning he will make $1 million with this call-up.
Ford, 29, was reacquired from San Francisco for cash considerations after he was traded by the Mariners to the Giants for cash considerations April 30. He was in the lineup as the DH on Friday.
Sampson, 30, is a Skyline grad and had a brief stint with the Mariners in 2016. He will report to Triple-A Tacoma.
Fairchild, 26, appeared in three games with Seattle this season after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on April 30. He was acquired in a trade from Arizona for cash considerations April 23.
Young, 27, made his major-league debut with Seattle on Monday against Philadelphia, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits with one walk and three strikeouts.
Ramirez, 27, made Seattle’s opening-day roster and was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma on April 28. He appeared in seven games, posting a 1-0 record with a 7.56 ERA with six walks and 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings pitched.