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Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto: Ben Gamel ‘will factor in again very quickly’

Ben Gamel has been torching Triple-A pitching since being optioned by the Mariners. (AP)

It has been over two weeks since the Mariners optioned outfielder Ben Gamel to Triple-A Tacoma, deciding to keep Guillermo Heredia on the roster following a trade for veteran Cameron Maybin.

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The move raised some eyebrows at the time (and in some cases still does) due to Gamel’s better offensive numbers, and while Heredia made a crucial catch to help seal one of Seattle’s four wins in Houston last weekend, he’s continued to struggle at the plate.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto addressed the situation with Gamel and Heredia during his weekly Jerry Dipoto Show with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore on Thursday, and he indicated that Gamel’s bat may be back in Seattle’s lineup even before MLB rosters expand on Sept. 1.

“Ben will factor in again very quickly,” Dipoto said.

That may mean Gamel, who is torching Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .354/.427/.600 slash line, could be back in time for this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. More likely the Mariners are waiting to bring back the left-handed-hitting Gamel until after the Dodgers series, however, as southpaws Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw are scheduled to start against Seattle on Saturday and Sunday.

Dipoto said Heredia gives the Mariners “an opportunity against left-hand pitching,” but also acknowledged that it’s been a tough season in the batter’s box for the 27-year-old defensive specialist, who has a .219/.299/.313 slash line.

“He had a terrific start and really it’s been a cold three or four months for him with the bat, but he does do terrific things defensively,” Dipoto said. “I don’t think we go 6-4 on that trip if Guillermo’s not playing center field in Houston in the eighth inning (Aug. 11) … I do recognize the things that he provides us. He’s a terrific teammate who brings high energy, but it just hasn’t been a very good year for him with the bat. At some point Ben Gamel does offer more, and Ben will get an opportunity to swing the bat here pretty soon.”

Dipoto likes Mariners’ new versatility

If Gamel is called back up in the coming days, he would be just the latest of multiple changes to the team’s roster.

With Robinson Canó back from suspension, Dee Gordon returned to center field from second base for the first time since May 16 on Wednesday. Canó has also played first base since his return, and manager Scott Servais used those players’ positional flexibility to his advantage in the 2-0 win over Oakland, bumping Canó to first, moving Gordon to second and inserting Heredia into center field during the late innings.

Dipoto is a fan of how it’s all working out so far.

“I thought (Gordon) looked great out there (in center field),” he said. “The versatility that we showed those last couple days in Oakland, with what we were able to do with our lineup, with Robbie being able to move around the field, with Dee playing the two different options, it gives us so many different options in a game that we just haven’t had before.”

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