Mariners Notebook: Justin Upton playing LF and hitting 6th vs Angels

Jun 17, 2022, 4:20 PM | Updated: 4:34 pm
Mariners Justin Upton...
Justin Upton of the Los Angeles Angels drops his bat after hitting a home run against the Houston Astros. (Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Mariners’ newest addition to the MLB roster, Justin Upton, will make his Seattle debut Friday night against his former team.

Mariners recall Justin Upton, option Sam Haggerty to Triple-A

Upton, 34, signed an MLB contract with Seattle last month and will be playing left field and hitting sixth for the Mariners against the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

Upton has spent the last few weeks first at the team’s facility in Arizona and then with Triple-A Tacoma. The four-time All-Star is playing his first game as a Mariner against the Angels, who designated him for assignment during spring training.

Prior to Friday’s game, Mariners manager Scott Servais talked to reporters about adding Upton to the mix and what his role will be going forward.

“Excited to have Justin Upton joining us today,” Servais said. ” … Certainly he had a situation where he was let go by the Angels at the end of spring training and didn’t know if he’d get another opportunity again. He still felt he had something left to give, and we’re looking to give him an opportunity to do that. Not just on the field, but in our clubhouse.”

Servais noted that the Mariners have the second-youngest group of position players in MLB, and that with leaders like Mitch Haniger and Tom Murphy injured, it’s “good to bring in veteran guys.”

But Upton wasn’t signed just to be a good clubhouse presence.

“He’ll play quite a bit. He’ll mix it at some DH and you’ll see him in the corner outfield spots,” Servais said.

Upton will likely play a lot right from the start of his Mariners tenure, but Servais said it’s unlikely he will “run him out there for 10 games in a row.”

“(We’re going to) give him an opportunity to kind of work his way in, and hopefully he can help out offensively in the middle of our lineup,” Servais said.

Upton’s presence will change some things in terms of the designated hitter spot and the two corner outfield spots, but Servais stressed that he wants young right fielder Taylor Trammell to keep playing a good deal, especially against right-handed pitching.

“I think he’s done some really positive things  when he’s been in there,” Servais said. “(Adding Upton) will also allow us to do some different things platoon-wise (and with) the DH spot, like I said. Upton will take some of those, (Jesse) Winker will get some DH (days). Things like that. So we’ll just kind of continue to mix the guys around and (some of it will be) based on who we’re facing that night.”

Speaking of both Winker and Trammell, those two will also be in the lineup along with Upton.

Friday lineup

J.P. Crawford, SS
Ty France, 1B
Julio Rodríguez, CF
Eugenio Suárez, 3B
Jesse Winker, DH
Justin Upton, LF
Adam Frazier, 2B
Cal Raleigh, C
Taylor Trammell, RF

Robbie Ray, SP

More Mariners Notes

• Winker will DH for the eighth time this season and will hit fifth for the 13th time. Trammell stays in right field as the Angels are throwing righty Michael Lorenzen to start the game Friday night.

• Robbie Ray gets the ball for the Mariners on Friday. He’s coming off perhaps his best outing as a Mariner when he threw seven scoreless innings against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Servais mentioned that Ray will likely utilize the 2-seam fastball/sinker that he’s used a lot his last two starts when he faces the Angels on Friday.

• First baseman Ty France returns to the lineup Friday after sitting out Thursday’s series opener in his first game off of 2022. As he has all season long, France will hit second in the order.

• J.P. Crawford is hitting leadoff for the second game in a row and for just the second time this season. He hit leadoff 108 times in 2021.

• Nothing is set yet as far as the plan for pitching during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Servais told reporters Friday that the Mariners have a few options bouncing around, and it depends both on how Ray does against the Angels on Friday as well as how the first game Saturday goes.

Chris Flexen is the probably starter for Game 1. Servais said the team hasn’t decided if the second game will be a true bullpen day, a “spot start” or have an “opener” before a “bulk guy.”

Because it’s a doubleheader, the Mariners can recall a pitcher from the minors for the day and have 27 players on the MLB roster.

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Mariners Notebook: Justin Upton playing LF and hitting 6th vs Angels