The Seattle Mariners got a slick-fielding third baseman Saturday, and the Tacoma Rainiers’ starting rotation got another marvelous arm.
Once Seattle acquired left-handed hitter Jack Hannahan from Oakland for Class AA pitcher Justin Souza, the Mariners had to make a roster move – and sent pitcher Brandon Morrow to Tacoma.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I understand the situation,” said Morrow, who had started against Texas a night earlier. “I’ll go down to Tacoma knowing there are no promises when I’ll come back. We’ll need a starter on July 25th, and we’ll see what happens.”
Manager Don Wakamatsu insisted it wasn’t a demotion so much as an opportunity to give Morrow time to work on his off-speed pitches before returning to the big-league rotation.
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“As I told him, he’s a big part of our close future,” Wakamatsu said. “With what he’s already learned here, to go down and make the adjustments between being a five-inning pitcher and a seven-inning pitcher will help him and the team. He’s going down with a definitive plan.”
Since losing third baseman Adrian Beltre to shoulder surgery, the Mariners have missed his bat and his glove, and general manager Jack Zduriencik acquired Hannahan to help alleviate half of that – the defense.
“We had the opportunity to acquire a premium defensive player,” Zduriencik
said. “Jack will become part of our mix at third base.”
Wakamatsu and bench coach Ty Van Berkleo know Hannahan well – they were Athletics coaches last season, when Hannahan played 143 games for Oakland.
“We’ll platoon him with Chris Woodward at third base,” Wakamatsu said. “I know his makeup; he’s a great guy, a character guy and he’ll help the team.”
No one with the team was trying to make more of this than a small deal for immediate defensive help. Hannahan, 29, is a career .233 hitter who this season batted .193 in 52 games with Oakland before being sent to Class AAA Sacramento, where he was hitting .222 in 21 games.
By moving Morrow, the Mainers will have an extra position player on their bench while going with a four-man rotation one time after the All-Star break. When they need a fifth starter, they’ll have options: Morrow, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Jason Vargas are all with the Rainiers.
Another rotation shake-up
Morrow’s departure changes the Mariners’ rotation after the All-Star break, when he was scheduled to pitch the first game. Now, there are two rotations in place – one if Felix Hernandez pitches an inning in he All-Star Game, another if he pitches two.
If he pitches one inning, the rotation will be Garrett Olson, Felix, Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard. If he pitches two innings: Olson, Washburn, Felix and Bedard.
It’s unappreciated, except by pitchers and managers, but Mariners catchers have thrown out 36.2 percent of would-be basestealers this season – the highest percentage in the majors. Kenji Johjima has thrown out 46.4 percent of the 28 men who have run on him, Rob Johnson has caught 28.1 percent of the 32 runners against him.
The Mariners and Rangers will play the final game before the All-Star break at 1:10 p.m. today on FSN. Probable starting pitchers: Dustin Nippert (0-0, 7.36 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (5-2, 2.58).