The Mariners are expected to add free agent Danny Espinosa to the 25-man roster to take Motter's place as back-up infielder.
The Mariners optioned infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter to Class AAA Tacoma on Monday morning.
The move wasn’t a punishment for the costly mental mistake of getting picked off in the ninth inning of Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. No, this was a decision that was made when the team agreed to sign veteran infielder Danny Espinosa to a free agent contract.
With Espinosa signing a major-league deal, Motter, who has played sparingly since the All-Star break and struggled at the plate since April, was going to go to Tacoma to play on a more regular basis.
“I think he needed to go back and play,” manager Scott Servais said. “He wasn’t getting enough at-bats here to figure out where his bat was at, and I didn’t see it coming anytime soon just with where we are at. So we discussed a plan to create more at-bats for him, and that’s where Danny fits.’’
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Motter joined the Rainiers immediately and was in the lineup and starting at shortstop in Tacoma’s 4-3 win on Monday afternoon. He went 1 for 4.
“He was the first guy here today,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “He came and was ready to play and had a really good attitude. We talked for a while, and he wanted to know where he was hitting in the lineup. He wants as many at-bats as he can. I talked to (Mariners coach) Scott Brosius yesterday, and he said he just needs to play. He needs some work and some at-bats.”
Because of Motter’s projected role if/when he rejoins the Mariners, Listach will play him all over.
“He will probably be at second base (Tuesday), at third on Wednesday and in the outfield on Thursday,” he said. “We’ll bounce him around. We’ve got some versatility and moving pieces. We want to make sure he gets his at-bats.”
The Mariners announced the Espinosa contract Monday afternoon before batting practice for the game series opener against the Red Sox.
Espinosa was designated for assignment by the Angels last week after hitting .162 with eight doubles, six homers, 29 RBI and 91 strikeouts in 77 games.
Motter was solid early in the season when asked to fill in for the injured Jean Segura, hitting .262 with a .941 on-base plus slugging percentage, seven doubles, five homers and 13 RBI in 18 games.
Since April 27, Motter was hitting .180 (27-for-150) with a .500 OPS, four doubles, two homers, 10 RBI and 40 strikeouts in his last 52 games.
“Early in the year Taylor did a great job for us really swinging the bat,” Servais said. “Again, the league made some adjustments to him, and now he’s got to adjust back.’’