5/5/2014 9:13 P.M. ET
Struggling Furbush shifts to reduced role
By Alex Espinoza / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- Mariners reliever Charlie Furbush has had a tough start to the season, and it continued on Sunday night during the 8-7 win in Houston.
Furbush only tossed six pitches in the eighth inning, but he was charged with a couple of runs after giving up a leadoff single and double. For the year, the 28-year-old southpaw has an 0-3 record, 7.71 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP, largely due to the 15 hits he's given up in 9 1/3 innings.
Following Furbush's outing on Sunday, manager Lloyd McClendon acknowledged his setup man's struggles.
"Sure, I'm a little concerned. I'm concerned with his command, concerned with his ability to execute his pitches," McClendon said. "We're just going to have to continue to give him touch and feels in the bullpen because regardless of how disappointed I am in how he's going about it lately, he's a big, big part of what we're going to be and our success this year. We need Charlie Furbush to be successful and we have to get him right."
McClendon further addressed the lefty on Monday, saying he likely won't use Furbush in key, late-game situations for the immediate future. Furbush posted a 3.31 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 10.8 K/9 ratio over 119 outings the past two years but hasn't been able to recapture that form this season.
Furbush will likely be used against left-handed batters in a situational setting, while veteran southpaw Joe Beimel could see an increased late-inning role.
"To some extent," McClendon said. "That's not to say you won't see Charlie late on some occasions, because you will. It may be for one hitter, but you'll see it."
Beimel, 37, has made a strong return to the big leagues after sitting out the past two seasons following 2012 Tommy John surgery. He's posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 12 appearances after making the Opening Day roster as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.
"Right now, he's doing great," McClendon said. "No complaints, no issues. I think his velocity is probably higher now than it was in Spring Training. I think he's throwing the ball pretty good."
Jones steps in as Almonte heads to Rainiers
OAKLAND -- The Mariners sent struggling rookie outfielder Abraham Almonte to Triple-A Tacoma and recalled 25-year-old James Jones for his second stint this season before Monday's series opener against the A's.
Jones earned his first big league callup on April 16 but was optioned back down to Tacoma just three days later. He singled in his only Major League at-bat during a pitch-hitting appearance on April 18 against the Marlins, and he has batted .313/.382/.450 with two homers, eight RBIs and five steals in 20 games for the Rainiers.
Even though he's likely to see an increased role this time around, Jones said he's going to keep the same mentality.
"Just focus on the goals daily, one day a time kind of thing." Jones said. "Just knowing that I'm not under control of everything and I got to go out there and do what I do."
Manager Lloyd McClendon didn't start the left-handed-hitting Jones Monday night against A's lefty Scott Kazmir, but Jones will likely be seeing more time against southpaws going forward. McClendon said the plan is to put Jones in center field and mix him in with Michael Saunders.
McClendon was impressed with Jones' first stint, citing his ability to steal bases and play defense.
"When he came up in Miami, I thought he did a great job for us in the short amount of time that he got there" McClendon said. "But he wasn't overwhelmed by the situation."
Almonte, 24, started the season with five RBIs in six games but his average slowly dipped below the Mendoza line. In 27 games, Almonte posted a .198/.248/.292 slash line with a homer, eight RBIs, 40 strikeouts and six walks.
"Well he struggled for a quite a while," McClendon said of Almonte. "I don't think it was something that took any of us by surprise. The fact is we believed in him and I still believe in him. I think he's going to be an everyday player at the big league level. But he's not the first player to have to go back."
McClendon is confident Cano will heat up
OAKLAND -- The Mariners are five weeks into the Robinson Cano era, and the slugging second baseman has yet to put up the eyeopening numbers that one might expect from a man who signed a 10-year, $240-million contract this offseason.
Through 29 games, Cano is batting .293/.341/.388 with six doubles, a homer and 18 RBIs. At the same juncture last year for the Yankees, Cano had a .319/.367/.605 slash line with 10 doubles, eight home runs, and 18 RBIs. But the Mariners' 14-15 start entering Monday was a two-game improvement from their standing at that point in 2013.
Lloyd McClendon doesn't sound like a worried skipper when it comes to Cano's production, saying "it's going to be a thing of beauty" when the second baseman gets going. The manager also used a basketball analogy when describing Cano's play.
"It's like a good scorer," McClendon said. "You look up and he's got 22 points and it doesn't look like they did anything."
As far as the big contract, McClendon said he doesn't think it has affected Cano or his approach. McClendon mentioned Jacoby Ellsbury and the seven-year, $153 million deal he inked with the Yankees this winter as an example of the many high-paid players these days.
"If you really think about it, it's not the first big-time contract that's out there. That's old news now," McClendon said. "He fits right into what everybody else makes in that superstar category. Who's the guy in New York that they signed? Ellsbury? What's he making [about $21 million] a year? Robbie's making 24. What's the big deal? I say, 'What's the big deal?' But ..."
• McClendon didn't reveal his pitching plans for Wednesday's doubleheader, saying he would likely announce the decision on Tuesday. Felix Hernandez is slated to start one of the contests, while Triple-A righty Erasmo Ramirez is a prime candidate to receive a callup for a spot start with rosters able to expand to 26 for the day.
• McClendon said outfielder Logan Morrison's recovery from straining his right hamstring on April 15 is going slower than expected.
"The hamstring is not responding," McClendon said. "I have been [surprised]. It is what it is. There's no sense in arguing about it. I get him when I get him. Until then, I'll just read his tweets."
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.