By Brady Henderson
The Mariners may not be done making moves after sending Jesus Montero to Triple-A Tacoma, but Dustin Ackley and Aaron Harang are safe for now.
That was the word from general manager Jack Zduriencik, who joined “Wyman, Mike and Moore” Thursday afternoon. A few highlights from that conversation:
Ackley. Zduriencik’s stated reasons for not sending Ackley to Tacoma included his strong defense at second base, some “tough luck” he’s endured – presumably with hard-hit balls that ended up as outs – and a stretch in which Ackley appeared to be breaking out of his season-long slump. Zduriencik even said Ackley “has figured it out at the big-league level.”
Dustin Ackley has a .218 batting average and five extra-base hits. “We’re going to look forward to Dustin coming out of this thing,” Jack Zduriencik said. (AP)
He also said the absence of a viable alternative was a factor.
“Whenever you make a move, what is your best option to replace a player that you would send down?” Zduriencik said. “And I do think that is a major, major decision. That’s a big, big decision in terms of the player you’re bringing up, where he’s at in his career and the player that’s on your big-league ballclub.”
Infielder Nick Franklin has been discussed as a potential call-up lately. Franklin, 22, was drafted with the second of the Mariners’ two first-round picks in 2009, the same year they chose Ackley No. 2 overall. He’s played in 101 games in Triple-A Tacoma since his promotion last year and his hitting .318 with four home runs and 20 RBIs in 37 games this season.
When asked specifically about Franklin, Zduriencik said he’s happy with the way he’s been playing in Tacoma but noted that he’s young and not on the 40-man roster.
“Timing is everything with these young kids, there’s no question,” he said.
Harang. Zduriencik is giving Harang more time to recover from what has been a miserable start. Since he was acquired on April 11, Harang has gone 1-5 with an 8.58 ERA, and on Tuesday against the Angels he allowed seven earned runs and nine hits in just 3 2/3 innings.
Zduriencik, though, noted that start came after a nearly-two-week layoff and that Harang pitched well in Pittsburgh before he was scratched from his next start because of back spasms.
“I think when you have a veteran guy like this who has a history of being a dependable pitcher, you’ve got to continue to give him some rope and see what happens,” Zduriencik said. “Hopefully he gets himself back on track. He said he felt good physically the other day; he just didn’t pitch very good.”
Gutierrez update. Zduriencik said he expects center fielder Franklin Gutierrez to be back with the big-league club “probably in a week.” Gutierrez was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 23 with a strained hamstring. It was his fifth trip to the DL since 2011. Zduriencik said the Mariners are taking their time given Gutierrez’s injury history.
“With Franklin, you just have to see,” he said. “He has to sustain a period, I think, for us to say, ‘OK, he’s ready to come up.’ He’s on a 20-day rehab, and … in the past we’ve brought him up here when he said he feels good and he’s played a couple days in a row, but I think we’re looking to see a little more out of him this time, where, ‘Franklin, you’ve got to go out there and feel really good about yourself.'”