Meet the 2019 Seattle Mariners. Do you even know who they are?
With more than a third of their 2019 schedule remaining, the Seattle Mariners are already approaching a franchise record with the number of players they’ve used this season. Only the 2017 Mariners (61) have used more.
And, this season’s tally is ticking up again.
Tuesday, in its second roster swap in as many days, Seattle promoted former super utility player Kristopher Negron — who was scheduled to start Tuesday night’s series opener in Oakland in left field, and become the 54th player the Mariners have used — from Triple-A Tacoma.
Rookie right-hander Erik Swanson was also recalled, while outfielder Mac Williamson was designated for assignment after spending less than six weeks with the club and hitting just .182 in 25 games.
Negron was outrighted to Tacoma after losing the utility battle to rookie Dylan Moore this spring, though he played in 18 games for the Mariners last season. Negron’s addition brings Seattle’s 40-man roster to 39 players.
Negron spent his first 82 games of 2019 with the Rainiers, slashing at .310/.396/.503 with 15 doubles, four triples, 12 homers and 61 RBIs. He has appeared in parts of six major league seasons with three different clubs, including the series of games he played for the Mariners late last summer, after he was acquired from the Diamondbacks in August.
Both Negron and reliever Sam Tuivailala, who was activated from the 60-day injured list Monday, will add to Seattle’s ever-increasing players total when they make their season debuts. Seattle’s number of pitchers used (35) is also rapidly approaching the franchise record (40 in 2017).
Swanson is beginning his third stint with the Mariners this season, and has appeared as both a starter and reliever, posting a 1-5 record and 8.04 ERA in seven games (six starts) in April and May. After returning to Tacoma midway through May, he spent two weeks on the IL with a hamstring issue.
He’s been used as a starter and reliever since returning to the mound, appearing in seven games and starting three, but has never pitched three complete innings in either capacity. He’s allowed 10 earned runs across 13 1/3 innings — which can at least partly be attributed to how hitter-friendly the Pacific Coast League is this season — while walking eight and striking out 14. He’s allowed at least one earned run in each of his past five outings.
With his shorter starts and handful of relief appearances in Triple-A, Swanson is projected to function as an eighth arm out of Seattle’s consistently rotating bullpen, but could also be tried out in the opener role the Mariners have fiddled with since June.
CATCHER WHO CAN HIT
Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez has one of the top batting averages in the American League since mid-June, hitting .329 (25-for-76) with five homers, two doubles, 13 RBIs and seven walks in his past 24 games entering Tuesday.
He’s slugging at .553 during that span, with a .388 on-base percentage.
“Omar can really hit,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said recently. “He’s certainly earned everybody’s respect in the batter’s box. He makes good adjustments. You see him take balls the other way when he gets his pitch early in counts. He’s a really good low ball hitter, and he can get the ball in the air.
“We’ve seen more power than we were expecting, so there’s a lot of positives there offensively for Omar.”
Narvaez, who replaced Mike Zunino as Seattle’s everyday catcher this season, has seemingly surpassed his predecessor offensively — Zunino slashed at .207/.276/.406 in six seasons — and given the Mariners consistent at-bats in his first season with the club.
But, the defensive side is still a work in progress for Narvaez, Servais said.
“It’s coming,” Servais said. “You see some better games, and sometimes you take a step back, and there’s still things to work on in his receiving, his pitch framing. But, he’s getting better and is certainly somebody we can go forward with.”
▪ Brandon Brennan (shoulder) was transferred from Arizona to Tacoma on Monday to continue a rehab assignment, and pitched a scoreless inning while allowing one walk and striking out one batter on 16 pitches.
▪ Hunter Strickland (lat strain) is scheduled to throw a live BP in Tacoma on Wednesday, Servais told reporters in Oakland. If he completes the session without discomfort, he will begin a rehab assignment.
▪ Felix Hernandez (lat strain) is scheduled to throw a full bullpen Thursday, Servais told reporters, after enduring a setback during a rehab assignment with the Rainiers in June.