Notebook: Danny Espinosa ready for new role with Mariners
When news broke Sunday afternoon that the Mariners had signed veteran infielder Danny Espinosa, it appeared the writing was on the wall for Taylor Motter. While Motter had some big hits for the Mariners early in the year, his bat had stalled and playing time had become harder to come by. Mariners manager Scott Servais believed the lack of playing time was not helping the situation.
“I think he needed to go back and play,” Servais said. “He wasn’t getting enough at-bats here to kind of figure out where his bat was at. And I didn’t see it coming anytime soon.”
Motter reported to Triple-A Tacoma for the Rainiers’ early game Monday and went 1 for 4 while playing shortstop. The plan is to continue to move Motter around the diamond as he works things out at the plate. Espinosa, who was hitting just .162 when the Angels designated him for assignment on July 16, takes his place as Seattle’s utility man.
“Obviously he wasn’t having a very good year as well; that’s why he got released,” Servais said of Espinosa. “But sometimes change of scenery, different eyes on you, can get you going again, too. So he will be straight utility. He will give the guys a day off here when they need it.”
The defined role is something welcomed by Espinosa, who admitted he struggled to adjust to platooning as the season went on in Anaheim.
“I think it was a good thing to get that time off,” Espinosa said. “To kind of mentally and physically get time off from where I was at. This will be the first time that I’ll be designated off the bench. But it’s something I’ll get used to and I’ll prepare the best I can to make the best of my role.”
New Mariner talks old Mariner
I sat down with new Mariners reliever David Phelps on the pregame show and, among other things, asked about something that happened five years ago Sunday. That was the day Ichiro was traded to the Yankees while the Yankees were in Seattle. Phelps, a rookie then, was in the visiting clubhouse that day.
“We heard the news in the clubhouse and we were like, ‘Wait. We just did what?'” he remembered. “I’ve been fortunate enough to play with Ichiro all six years of my career – three years in New York and then three in Miami. You talk about a class act, true professional. Not only a guy who loves the game, but loves his teammates. It’s been a real, real blessing to not only call him my teammate but my friend.”
With the Marlins’ talented outfielders healthy this year, Ichiro has not had much opportunity to play. He’s hitting .227 in just 119 plate appearances. Obviously a tough year for Ichiro, but according to Phelps, he is not showing it.
“He’s the same guy and that’s the biggest testaments you can say about the guy,” he said. “It’s not his best year in baseball, but at the same time he goes about his job the same way every day. He’s been a godsend for that clubhouse because it is a very young clubhouse and he shows guys what it takes to be a big-leaguer every day.”
• To make room for Espinosa on the 40-man roster, Hisashi Iwkauma has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list. He has already spent over two months on the DL so he is eligible to come off at any time. He has yet to throw from the mound since his last setback in his recovery from shoulder inflammation, but he is making progress, according to Servais. “He’s pain free, no issues there,” Servais said. “He is getting stretched out a little bit. So he’s up to about 140 feet throwing, which is good once you get to the long-toss point. And then the next step is that you get on the mound. I haven’t heard a day yet for him getting out on the mound.”
• Servais is hopeful Jarrod Dyson, who is dealing with a hyper-extended toe, will be available for late inning work on Tuesday.