The first wave arrived Tuesday when, as expected, the Seattle Mariners summoned four players from Triple-A Tacoma in accordance with rules permitting rosters to expand to as many as 40 players in September.
The Mariners recalled outfielder Stefen Romero and right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez and selected the contracts of utilityman Shawn O’Malley and right-handed reliever Tony Zych.
The distinction is that Romero and Ramirez were already on the club’s 40-man roster, while O’Malley and Zych had to be added. With the additions, the 40-man roster is now full.
More promotions are expected next Tuesday, one day after the Rainiers complete their season.
O’Malley, 27, is a true utilityman who signed in January as a minor league free agent after nine seasons in the Rays’ and Angels’ organizations. He made his big-league debut last year by playing 11 games for the Angels.
The Mariners signed O’Malley, a switch-hitter, as a hedge against veteran Willie Bloomquist making a successful return from major knee surgery.
A Richland native, O’Malley was in line for a promotion in early July after the Mariners designated Bloomquist for assignment, but he suffered a broken hand that sidelined him for nearly a month.
“It was something you never want to have happen,” O’Malley said, “but I look at it as a blessing in disguise. I got to work with (Justin) Ruggiano when he came down (to Tacoma) in center field.
“So I got more comfortable playing in the outfield. If that’s where I end up playing (at times) here, that’s perfect. If I don’t have that injury, who knows if I’d feel as good (in the outfield) as I feel now.”
O’Malley arrives after batting .293 in 91 games and has 10 hits in his past four games.
Romero, 26, spent much of last year in the big leagues but played this entire season at Tacoma. He batted .292 in 116 games for the Rainiers with 17 homers and 79 RBIs.
Romero also provides, potentially, a potent bat against left-handed pitchers; he had a .314/.340/.529 slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) against lefties in the Pacific Coast League.
Ramirez, 25, came to the Mariners with outfielder Ramon Flores in the July 30 trade that sent outfielder Dustin Ackley to the New York Yankees. His numbers at Tacoma weren’t great: 13 runs allowed in 13 innings.
But Ramirez had a 2.90 ERA in 32 games earlier this year for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and appeared in 11 major league games with the Yankees over the past two years.
“It’s an opportunity to evaluate,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I think he’s out of options. We’ll take a look at him and see what he brings to the table.”
Zych, 25, came to the Mariners from the Chicago Cubs in an April 1 cash transaction. He has never pitched in the big leagues, but he arrives on a roll: 21 scoreless outings in his past 22 games for Tacoma and Double-A Jackson.
“It’s the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “I really don’t have words to describe it. I don’t know if it’s sank in yet.”
Future promotion possibilities include several players already on the 40-man roster: catcher Mike Zunino, shortstop Chris Taylor, outfielder James Jones, and pitchers Mike Montgomery, Danny Farquhar, Lucas Luetge and Tyler Olson.
FALL BALL ASSIGNMENTS
Left-hander James Paxton, who is three-plus months into his recovery from a finger injury, will look to build up his innings by pitching for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League.
Paxton heads a list of seven players assigned Tuesday to the Javelinas. Also heading to Peoria is lefty reliever David Rollins, who opened the season by serving an 80-game suspension for a drug violation.
Others ticketed for Fall League: lefty reliever Paul Fry, right-handed reliever Tony Zych, infielders D.J. Peterson and Tyler Smith, and outfielder Tyler O’Neill.
Paxton is currently on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma and is expected to rejoin the big-league rotation next week. He suffered a strained tendon in his middle finger in a May 28 start against Cleveland.
Prior to his injury, Paxton was 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 10 starts.
“He’s probably going to get 30 innings (in the Fall League),” McClendon said. “The plan right now is to have him go play winter ball and get another 30.”
The Mariners acquired Rollins from Houston last December in the Rule 5 Draft. He is 0-1 with an 8.57 ERA in 15 games since returning from his suspension.
Zych joined the big-league club Tuesday after pitching this season at Double-A Jackson and Tacoma. Fry, 23, compiled a 2.12 ERA this season in 46 games at Hi-A Bakersfield and Jackson.
Peterson, 23, was a first-round pick in 2013 but struggled this season, batting just .223 with seven homers and 44 RBIs in 97 games at Jackson and Tacoma. He is currently sidelined by an Achilles’ injury.
Smith, 24, was an eighth-round pick in 2013 and is batting .268 in 116 games at Jackson. O’Neill, 20, was a third-round pick in 2013 and is batting .263 in 99 games at Bakersfield with 30 homers and 81 RBIs.
Manager Lloyd McClendon is leaning toward a tweak in his rotation for the upcoming weekend series at Oakland.
The tentative plan now has left-hander Edgar Olmos (1-0, 2.13) starting the series opener Friday instead of right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (6-3, 4.22).
Iwakuma would shift to Sunday’s series finale in order to get two additional days of rest since his last start.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (15-8, 3.66) remains in line to start Saturday after being skipped in the current cycle. His last start was Aug. 26 in an 8-2 victory over the Athletics at Safeco Field.
Oakland’s tentative starters are right-hander Aaron Brooks (1-1, 5.47), right-hander Jesse Chavez (7-13, 3.93) and left-hander Felix Doubront (1-0, 3.28).
Some financial details on Monday’s trade that sent center fielder Austin Jackson to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later and $211,100 in international bonus pool money.
The Cubs are picking up $1 million of Jackson’s remaining salary on his $7.7 million contract. That means the Mariners must still pay about $430,000.
Short-A Everett entered Tuesday with a four-game lead in the Northwest League’s North Division with six games remaining.
The AquaSox opened a three-game Tuesday at Spokane (Rangers) before closing the regular season with three weekend games at second-place Vancouver (Blue Jays).
If Everett wins the division race, it will play host to first-half division winner Tri-City (Padres) on Sept. 7 in the opener of a best-of-three series. The second and (if necessary) third games would be Sept. 8-9 at Tri-City.
It was just one year ago Wednesday — Sept. 2, 2014 — that Fernando Rodney got his 40th save of the season when he closed out a 6-5 victory at Oakland.
Rodney gave up two runs on three consecutive two-out doubles before ending the game. He went on to set a franchise record with 48 saves in 51 opportunities.
Lefty James Paxton is scheduled Wednesday for his third rehab start when Tacoma plays at Salt Lake. Barring any setbacks, that positions him to rejoin the rotation early next week against Texas at Safeco Field. … Manager Lloyd McClendon said lefty Mike Montgomery “was OK” on Monday when he gave up four runs and six hits over 61/3 innings for Tacoma in a 6-5 loss at Salt Lake. McClendon said: “His command of the fastball was not great.” Montgomery is in line for one more start before the Mariners determine whether to recall him. … Tacoma outfielder Jabari Blash hit 14 home runs in August, which is the highest monthly total this season for any player at any level in professional ball.
The Mariners and Astros complete their three-game series at 5:10 p.m. (PDT) Wednesday at Minute Maid Park.
Right-hander Taijuan Walker (10-7, 4.53 ERA) will face Houston lefty Scott Kazmir (7-9, 2.45).