Mariners notebook: A new twist in the second half
BALTIMORE – The dust is settling from one of the craziest deadline days we have seen in recent memory, and I have to give everyone who commented on any of the posts yesterday a huge thank you. At the end of what is one of the longest and most stressful days on the baseball calendar, it was really nice for me to see mostly well informed and thoughtful discussions on the posts.
The news of the day, of course, is the roster moves. James Jones and Stefen Romero have been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for Chris Denorfia and Austin Jackson.
As I mentioned yesterday, the growing pains are being replaced by veteran experience. How different is this from the past years of general manager Jack Zduriencik’s reign? Win or lose, postseason or no postseason, the second half is not about getting the youth experience at the big-league level. No, they are being sent back to Tacoma for further development while Denorfia and Jackson are here to help this club win games down the stretch.
The pair arrived in the clubhouse about two hours before Friday’s game. Denorfia took the move in stride, said the writing was on the wall with his contract expiring at the end of the year. He is thrilled to be coming to a team with a shot at the postseason.
“I see a lot of fight here. I see a lot of guys that can taste the postseason,” he said. “With two months to go, that is a great thing. That’s something I haven’t had this year even for a week. Just to come here the first day and guys be excited and ready to make a push, it’s exciting for me to be a part of it.”
It could be a little different for Jackson, who comes from a team that has a four-game lead in its division. But he looks at it in a different manner.
“New chapter. You get to start fresh,” he said. “You get to help a ballclub that is trying to advance and I like that challenge. I’ve always been somebody who is up for a good challenge, and I see this as one of those challenges.”
There is the added benefit for Jackson of being reunited with his former hitting coach, Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon.
“That’s awesome for me,” he said. “The connection that we were able to make was awesome. With him being a manger now, I was happy for him when it happened and I am more happy now that I am playing for him.”
There is little time to settle in. Both Jackson and Denorfia took batting practice with the team, had brief meetings with McClendon and third base coach Rich Donnelley and are in the lineup.
Austin Jackson, 8
Dustin Ackley, 7
Robinson Cano, 4
Kendrys Morales, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Chris Denorfia, 9
Corey Hart, DH
Mike Zunino, 2
Chris Taylor, 6
• Austin Jackson has seen his numbers go down a bit this year but he has been hot with the bat recently, hitting .349/.390/.505/.894 in July.
• Happy birthday to the starter. Roenis Elias turns 26 today.
• James Paxton has been officially announced as the starter for Saturday. A 25- and 40-man roster move will be made tomorrow. McClendon said that with interleague play on the horizon, he most likely would make a move with the pitching to clear space for Paxton on the 25-man roster.
• Mike Zunino, who now has the team lead in home runs with 17, has hit 10 in his last 30 games.