Infielder Danny Espinosa was placed on waivers for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release.
ST. PETERSBURG — While many people thought that Taylor Motter’s demotion to Class AAA Tacoma on July 24 was some sort of punishment for being picked off in the ninth inning of loss to the Yankees the day before, the decision had been made well before that.
With playing time and at-bats sparse for Motter, who had been struggling at the plate, the team decided to option him to the Rainiers and try re-find his swing and approach with consistent playing time. After doing that and more in Tacoma, Motter was recalled and joined the Mariners on Sunday morning at Tropicana Field.
“When we sent him out, we knew he needed to get the bat going,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s made a few adjustments down there. The numbers have been very good.”
Indeed, Motter was hitting .350 (35- for 100) with six doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 18 RBI with 14 walks and 6 stolen bases in 25 games with the Rainiers. He had 14 hits in his last 20 at-bats before being called up.
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There wasn’t some major swing or approach change. It was a change in thinking.
“Not worrying,” Motter said. “Not worrying about what the next day held. Not worrying about getting back up here. Not worrying about if I was going to play the next day. I was just taking it one pitch at a time and worrying about getting the job done there before I could come up here.”
Playing every day allowed Motter to find a rhythm and make minor adjustments in games from at-bat to at-bat and pitch to pitch. He had hit just .180 (27 for 150) with a .500 OPS, four doubles, two homers, 10 RBI and 40 strikeouts in the 52 games before being sent down.
“It was huge,” he said. “You start off hot and then guys got healthy and I went back to the role I was supposed to be in and then playing time gets scarce and you start questioning your swing and whether your swing is this or that. So there is definitely things I needed to work on.”
With lefty Blake Snell starting for Tampa and Kyle Seager still feeling the effects of a stomach virus and 12-pound weight loss, Motter was immediately inserted into starting lineup at third base against his old team.
“Today there was a spot to put him at third base,” Servais said. “We can give Seager another day to get his legs under him. He’s feeling better, but not 100 percent yet. Going into the National League games with Taylor’s versatility, he can play all over the field. It’s a nice weapon to have for our advantage.”
To make room for Motter on the 25-man roster, infielder Danny Espinosa was placed on waivers for the purpose of his unconditional release. Espinosa appeared in eight games with the Mariners, going for 3 for 16 with two doubles and two RBIs.