The clock ran out Saturday for veteran Rickie Weeks when he was designated for assignment by the Mariners in order to clear space for reliever Danny Farquhar.
The Mariners needed a fresh arm after extending their bullpen for 131/3 innings over the last two days because of early exits by J.A. Happ and Felix Hernandez in losses to Cleveland and Houston.
The price was Weeks.
“Rickie is a professional,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He was a positive influence on a lot of guys in that locker room. It just didn’t work out on the field for whatever reason.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“With the stress that we had on the bullpen, it was just a move we had to make.”
Farquhar, 28, opened the season in the big leagues but was optioned May 25 to Triple-A Tacoma after going 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA in 20 appearances.
“We just wanted him to get out and pitch,” McClendon said. “Gain his control back, get a feel for his pitches back.”
Farquhar wasn’t particularly effective in five appearances at Tacoma; he gave up seven runs and 10 hits in 91/3 innings. But he hadn’t pitched since Tuesday before working two scoreless innings in Seattle’s 8-1 victory over Houston on Saturday.
The Mariners signed Weeks, 32, on Feb. 13 to a one-year deal for $2million in the hope he could convert from second base to a utility role and add some right-handed pop to their lineup.
He departs after batting .167 with two homers and nine RBIs in 37 games. He struggled in making the shift to left field.
The June 3 trade that brought Mark Trumbo from Arizona effectively left Weeks without a role on the roster.
“Playing time was certainly going to be diminished quite a bit,” McClendon said.
Recalling Farquhar figures to be a stop-gap move because an eight-man bullpen leaves the club with a three-man bench.
McClendon said he doubted the Mariners would keep that arrangement for the two-game series that opens Monday at San Francisco.
If the Mariners recall a position player, outfielder James Jones looms as a likely candidate. He is batting .340 over his last 14 games for the Rainiers, with a .459 on-base percentage and a .520 slugging percentage.
Jones batted .250 last season in 108 big-league games, with 27 steals, but got squeezed out this spring after the Mariners added veterans Seth Smith, Justin Ruggiano and Weeks in the offseason.
RUGGIANO TO TACOMA
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano is heading to Tacoma on an outright assignment after clearing waivers.
The Mariners designated Ruggiano, 32, for assignment June 4 after acquiring Trumbo from the Diamondbacks. Ruggiano batted .214 with two homers and three RBIs in 36 games prior to the move.
Ruggiano had sufficient service time to refuse the assignment and become a free agent, but he didn’t have enough time to do so and be paid the balance of his $2.505 million salary.
The Mariners acquired Ruggiano from the Chicago Cubs in a Dec. 17, 2014, trade for minor-league reliever Matt Brazis.
Ruggiano has a .255/.319/.427 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) in 434 career games over parts of seven major league seasons with four clubs.
SUCRE ON MOUND
Backup catcher Jesus Sucre became the fourth position player in Mariners’ history to pitch when he worked a scoreless eighth inning in Friday’s 10-0 loss to Houston.
“They told me in the seventh inning,” he said. “They said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to go to the pen. You might pitch today.’ I said, ‘All right. I don’t have any problem.’”
Sucre said he threw all fastballs and needed only seven pitches to set down the Astros. He gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez, but got Preston Tucker to ground into a double play. Jake Marisnick then grounded out.
The scoreless outing was a first by a Seattle position player:
▪ Infielder Manny Castillo gave up seven runs and eight hits over 22/3 innings on June 26, 1983, in a 19-7 loss to Toronto at the Kingdome.
▪ Outfielder/first baseman John Mabry gave up two runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning on May 28, 2000, in a 14-4 loss at Tampa Bay. He closed out an 11-run eighth inning by the then-Devil Rays.
▪ Catcher Jamie Burke gave up one run and one hit in one inning on July 6, 2008, in a 2-1 loss to Detroit in 15 innings at Safeco Field. Mark Lowe pitched a scoreless inning that night; he pitched two innings Friday.
Although Sucre threw only the seven pitches, and the Mariners’ bullpen remained thin entering Saturday’s game, McClendon said: “I would like very much to stay away from Sucre.”
Some perspective on how bad Felix Hernandez’s start Friday was in historical terms, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info.
Hernandez became the 13th starting pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to allow eight-plus earned runs while getting one out or fewer.
Thirteen really is an unlucky number.
LOWE AND LOWER
Veteran reliever Mark Lowe lowered his ERA to 0.51 by pitching two scoreless innings in Friday’s loss.
Lowe has allowed one earned run in 172/3 innings over 16 appearances since his May 4 promotion from Tacoma and is closing in on a minor distinction:
Shigetoshi Hasegawa holds the franchise record for the lowest ERA prior to the All-Star Game (minimum 15 innings) at 0.77 in 2003. Hasegawa did that by yielding four earned runs in 462/3 innings.
The agony continued Friday for Single-A Clinton, which suffered its 13th consecutive loss despite scoring four runs in the first inning and carrying a one-run lead into the bottom of the ninth at Lake County (Indians).
The LumberKings were 3 for 17 with runners in scoring position and left 14 men on base in Friday’s 9-8 loss. They were a combined 6 for 35 with RISP in three losses to Lake County while leaving 35 men on base.
It was two years ago Sunday — June 14, 2013 — that Mike Zunino, in his second career game, hit his first career home run.
It came in the seventh inning at Oakland against Tommy Milone and lifted the Mariners to a 3-2 victory. Joe Saunders got the victory after holding the Athletics to one run in seven innings.
Mike Montgomery is only the second pitcher in club history to work at least six innings in his first three career starts while allowing fewer than three runs in each one. The other was Bob Stoddard in 1981. … Logan Morrison has hits in all 18 of his career games at Minute Maid Park. … The Mariners broke a seven-game losing streak at Minute Maid Park.
The Mariners and Astros conclude their three-game weekend series at 11:10 a.m. (PDT) Sunday at Minute Maid Park. Left-hander Roenis Elias (3-3, 2.97 ERA) will face Houston right-hander Lance McCullers (2-1, 2.32).