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The Mariners made a quiet roster move after Tuesday night’s 7-5 win over the Astros. First baseman/DH Jesus Montero was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma. He is expected to be in the lineup for the Rainiers tonight in Salt Lake City.

Why make this move?

“It was an opportunity to get him some at-bats over the next six days and kind of sharpen him back up,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “When he comes back, he’ll have a better chance of helping us win ball games. He hasn’t played consistently. We had that little stretch of lefties where he played, but now he’s been sitting for a little bit and he’s gotten a little rusty. So he’ll go back and get some at-bats, get sharp and help us.”

With Mark Trumbo producing at the plate and Logan Morrison starting to swing the bat better – both players also under club control – Montero had seen his playing time decrease. By going to Tacoma for the remaining for six games of the Rainiers’ season, he’ll be able to play every day.

“It was strictly a baseball decision to get him more a-bats,” McClendon said. “It’s a smart decision. We can have him sit here for six days or have him go there and possibly get 30 at-bats.”

Montero has been scuffling at the plate.

The hope is that he can get the at-bats with the Rainiers to get out of the minor funk he is in. Tacoma has six games left in the season and he’ll play in all of them and probably rejoin the team with a few other players on Sept. 8.

There is concern about the huge bat dip in his swing. It slows down everything and leaves him behind on pitchers with quality fastballs. The swing is too long to catch up with them. So by instinct, Montero has to cheat on the fastball, starting the swing early. Pitcher’s recognize it and throw breaking stuff away. Because Montero is cheating that fastball, a well placed breaking ball leaves him completely out of hitting position and flailing at pitches.  Why didn’t it affect him at Class AAA? Well, there is a lack of outstanding fastballs at Class AAA, so he doesn’t have to try and be early for fastballs in the 90-92 range.  I don’t know that it can be fixed. He’s always had it in his swing.

Montero’s future with the organization is uncertain. He is out of options after this season, meaning he will have to make the 25-man roster out of spring or be designated for assignment. Zduriencik had a lot of personal cache invested in Montero, having traded Michael Pineda for him. But there will be no ties to him with a new general manager. I don’t know if he can play at the big league level. There have been hints of some ability, but there are also obvious holes in his swing and approach.


Updated probables

With an off day on Thursday, McClendon made a minor adjustment to his projected starters for the series Oakland, pushing Hisashi Iwakuma back to Sunday and moving Felix Hernandez to Saturday. Lefty Edgar Olmos will make his second start on Friday. Meanwhile, Vidal Nuno, who made a spot start for Hernandez, will return to the bullpen and be ready for the series in Oakland.

Why the change?

“It’s just to get (Iwakuma) a couple extra days of rest,” McClendon said.

The rotation will continue to be adjusted with the return of lefty James Paxton looming and the innings limit of right-hander Taijuan Walker approaching.

McClendon has said that that he plans to skip at least one of Walker’s starts going forward, but still hasn’t determined which one. Barring an injury, Paxton’s last rehab start was scheduled to come on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City.

“If he’s healthy, he’s going to be in the rotation when he comes back,” McClendon said. “That’s a given.”




M’s numbers vs. Scott Kazmir

Astros vs. Taijuan Walker


Game notes