With the short start in Cleveland from J.A. Happ on Thursday and the worst outing of Felix Hernandez’s career on Friday night in Houston, the Mariners had to make a roster move to bring in a fresh arm to supplement their overworked bullpen.
Right-hander Danny Farquhar caught the red eye out of Seattle last night and is arriving in Houston before the game. To make room on the 25-man roster for Farquhar, outfielder Rickie Weeks has been designated for assignment.
The Mariners couldn’t send out a reliever for obvious reasons. It meant Weeks was the roster casualty. But really his time on this team was waning. He’d avoided being DFA’d when the team traded for Mark Trumbo with Justin Ruggiano being the roster casualty instead. There was no avoiding it this time. The experiment to bring him on as a platoon outfielder and back-up infielder never really materialized into success.
“Rickie was a professional and went about his business in the locker room in a very professional manner,” McClendon said. “I thought he was positive influence on a lot of guys on the team, but it just didn’t work out for whatever reason. With the stress we had on the bullpen, it was a move we had to make.”
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Weeks never looked comfortable in left field and it became clear the Mariners were hesitant to use him too much in that position, opting for at-bats at designated hitter. But with the addition of Trumbo – another substandard defensive player – those DH at-bats were going to dwindle.
“His playing time was certainly going to be diminished quite a bit,” McClendon said.
Weeks appeared in 37 games and was hitting .167 (14-for-84) with a double, two homers and nine RBI. He was supposed to be more of a platoon player with Dustin Ackley in left field and right-handed bat off the bench against left-handed pitchers. For a time, he was productive against left-handers, but that feel off in the last 20 days.
McClendon loved Weeks’ intensity and his day to day approach to the game, particularly his willingness to put in extra work without being told or asked to so. He believed it would be beneficial for the team. But in the end, Weeks’ lack of a true position and his inconsistency at the plate made him expendable.
Farquhar gets the call over Mayckol Guaipe because of his experience and his ability to pitch multiple innings. His last three outings with Tacoma have been two innings or more.
Seattle will have an eight-man bullpen, but that may only be temporary. Right now they have four outfielders – Ackley, Austin Jackson, Seth Smith and Nelson Cruz – and one guy they could play in the outfield but would prefer not to in Trumbo.
With National League games on Monday and Tuesday in San Francisco, they may make another roster move and bring up a position player. If they go with an outfielder, they could choose from James Jones, Stefen Romero or Franklin Gutierrez. There is an open 40-man roster spot with Weeks’ absence. Another possibility would be recalling Chris Taylor to share shortstop on duties with Brad Miller, who could also play in the outfield some as well.
*** Tom Wilhelmsen and Joe Beimel won’t be available to pitch in relief today. That leaves Farquhar, Rodney, Furbush, Lowe and Carson Smith available. McClendon said Lowe and Furbush would only be available for one inning.
*** Jose Altuve left last night’s game with hamstring tightness and is out of the lineup today. The Astros are calling it a hamstring strain.
*** Outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who was designated for assignment on June 4, cleared waivers and been outrighted to Class AAA Tacoma. Ruggiano, who has four years of service time, could have refused the assignment and become a free agent. But he would have also forfeited his current contract, which pays him $2.5 million. So when he wasn’t claimed, the financially smart decision for him was to accept the outright and go to Tacoma. A report date for Ruggiano to join the Rainiers hasn’t been determined.
Here’s the M’s numbers vs. Astros’ starter Collin McHugh
Official game notes