Seattle Mariners

Jesus Montero upbeat despite returning to Tacoma

Jesus Montero was 3 for 10 overall with three walks in five games since his July 9 recall to the Seattle Mariners. He was sent back to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
Jesus Montero was 3 for 10 overall with three walks in five games since his July 9 recall to the Seattle Mariners. He was sent back to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. The Associated Press

Jesus Montero covered any frustration at returning to the minors by vowing to do whatever is necessary to gain another chance to play in the big leagues.

“They gave me an opportunity to be here,” he said. “It was fun. I want to keep working hard to get back here. I don’t know when. Maybe tomorrow. But I’m going to continue to do my best to be up here and help them to win.

The Mariners optioned Montero to Triple-A Tacoma after Seattle’s 2-1 loss Sunday to the New York Yankees.

A corresponding move won’t be announced until Monday, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon previously indicated left-hander J.A. Happ would be recalled from Single-A Bakersfield in order to start the series opener at Detroit.

Happ is already with the club.

Montero reached base in all three plate appearances Sunday with two singles and a walk. He was 3 for 10 overall with three walks in five games since his July 9 recall from the Rainiers.

Happ was 4-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 17 starts before getting optioned July 9 to Bakersfield. The move came one day after his last Mariners start and required his approval because of service-time issues.

The move, effectively, was a paper transaction because the All-Star break allowed the Mariners to reset their rotation, i.e., Happ wasn’t scheduled to start until Monday.

Happ did not pitch for Bakersfield, but the move permitted the Mariners to make a short-term addition to their bench. They chose Montero, who was batting .332 with 15 homers and 68 RBIs in 84 games in Tacoma.

RODNEY’S NEW LOOK

Fernando Rodney unveiled a change-up of sorts when he arrived Sunday sporting copper/orange hair — although he called it “rubio” (blonde). Whatever it was, it was … different.

And it prompted the reaction you’d expect from teammates.

Start with the obvious question: Why?

“I don’t know, man,” Rodney said through a smile. “It’s too hot. This is kind of relaxing. Yeaaaah! It’s just something else. I surprised everybody. I did it (Saturday) night.”

The debut for the new look didn’t go well; Rodney surrendered a game-winning homer in Sunday’s loss to the Yankees.

LOVING NEW YORK

Felix Hernandez, despite getting a no-decision, continued his career-long dominance of the Yankees in New York, although his career ERA in the Bronx actually ticked up a bit after allowing one run in six innings.

Hernandez is 5-1 with two no-decisions and a 1.38 ERA in eight career starts against the Yankees in New York. This was the seventh time in those eight starts that he permitted one or no runs.

MORRISON SLUMPING

Slumping Logan Morrison wasn’t in the starting lineup partly because the Mariners opted for right-handed hitters Mark Trumbo and Montero against New York lefty CC Sabathia.

“CC is really tough on lefties,” McClendon said, “and I’m trying to get as (many) righties as I can in there. But we need (Morrison) if we’re going to be successful. He’s got to get him going.”

Morrison also entered the day mired in a 12 for 90 slide over his past 27 games, a .133 pace that dropped his season average from .261 to . 225.

“He’s on the ground a lot,” McClendon said. “He’s not going to make a lot of money on the ground. His (swing) path has got to change. We’ve got to get him to where he’s hitting line drives and fly balls to the gap.”

It’s been a roller-coaster year for Morrison, who batted just .149 over his first 19 games before going on a .307 binge over his next 43 games before hitting his current slide.

“When he’s going good, it’s good,” McClendon said. “When he’s going bad, it’s bad. We need him to get into one of those (good) streaks again … We’ve got to get him going.”

LOOKING BACK

It was one year Monday — July 20, 2014 — that Rodney blew a save in a 6-5 walk-off loss to the Angels at Anaheim after shooting his celebratory arrow when he escaped an eighth-inning jam.

Mike Trout and Albert Pujols mimicked Rodney’s arrow-shooting pantomime during the Angels’ comeback victory.

SHORT HOPS

The Mariners pitching staff got holds from four relievers for only the 14th time in franchise history in Saturday’s 4-3 victory. The club record is five on Sept. 22, 2007 in a 3-2 victory over the Angels in Anaheim. ... Robinson Cano has six homers in his past 22 games after hitting just two in his first 67 games.

ON TAP

The Mariners open a four-game series against the Tigers at 4:08 p.m. (PDT) Monday at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Left-hander Happ (4-5, 4.14 ERA) will be recalled from Single-A Bakersfield and start against Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon (8-6, 4.53).

The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710-AM.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

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