The Mariners made three anticipated roster moves on Thursday’s open date: They returned Nick Franklin to Triple-A Tacoma, optioned struggling starter Erasmo Ramirez to Advanced-A High Desert, and selected the contract of outfielder Cole Gillespie from the Rainiers.
This leaves the Mariners’ current active roster at 24, which means another move is coming before Friday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field. The club’s 40-man roster is full after adding Gillespie.
The decision not to fill the 25th spot immediately points to a likely move to recall left-handed reliever Lucas Luetge, who appeared in two big-league games prior to his April 15 return to Tacoma.
Players optioned to the minors can’t be recalled for 10 days unless they replace a player placed on the disabled list. Luetge will be eligible Friday for a recall.
The Mariners are skipping Ramirez’s spot in the rotation, which is why he was sent to High Desert in order to start Sunday on his regular day. That Sunday slot for the Rainiers will be filled by Hisashi Iwakuma, who is making a rehab appearance in Las Vegas. Should all go well, Iwakuma is expected to rejoin the Mariners for a May 2 start at Texas.
Plans call for Ramirez to be transferred to Tacoma for a May 2 start, which would keep him in line for a recall to start in a May 7 doubleheader at Oakland when the team will need the extra pitcher.
Gillespie, 29, was batting .362 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 16 games with the Rainiers. The Portland native has appeared in 78 career major league games with the Diamondbacks (2010-2011), Giants (2013) and Cubs (2013).
He was originally selected by the Brewers out of Oregon State. He was the 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year after leading the Beavers to the College World Series title.
Franklin, 23, appeared in seven games for the Mariners after being recalled from Tacoma on April 16. He went 2-for-16 (.125) with a triple. He made four starts at four different positions.
Ramirez, 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts, has slumped after earning the win in the Mariners second game of the season. Since then, Ramirez is 0-3 with a 8.47 ERA.
The Mariners conclude their homestand with a three-game series against the Rangers. Left-hander Roenis Elias (1-2, 3.22 ERA) will start the opener at 7:10 p.m. Friday against Texas right-hander Robbie Ross Jr. (1-1, 2.31). Root Sports will televise the game. blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @TNT_Mariners