8/11/2014 9:17 P.M. ET
Mariners recall Jones after Ramirez optioned
Speedy outfielder expected to provide help on defense, running bases
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- Rookie outfielder James Jones was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday by the Mariners, filling the opening created when right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was optioned to Tacoma after starting Sunday's 4-2 win over the White Sox.
Jones, 25, returns for his third stint with the Mariners this year. He's hit .258 with 38 runs and a team-leading 20 stolen bases, as well as eight doubles and four triples in 79 games.
Jones hit .257 with two doubles, two triples and four RBIs in eight games with Tacoma since being sent down. He's hit .296 in 28 total games with the Rainiers this year.
His return gives the Mariners five outfielders, joining Dustin Ackley, Austin Jackson, Endy Chavez and Chris Denorfia, with Michael Saunders still on a rehab stint with Tacoma as he returns from a strained oblique muscle.
With Jackson entrenched as the everyday center fielder since being acquired on July 31, manager Lloyd McClendon said Jones would play more in the corner-outfield spots now.
"James can do a lot of things," McClendon said. "He can play defense, steal a base. He can steal a base when they know he's stealing a base. I thought that's an important ingredient and it might help us win a ballgame."
That doesn't mean the youngster will be getting a lot of starting opportunities, however.
"I'm not going to rotate anybody. I'll play the guys that have played," McClendon said. "James will fit in on the defensive side of things and be able to steal some bases for us late in games. But I doubt if he'll get a lot of playing time, no."
Jones was in a 1-for-30 slump when he was sent down to Tacoma and says he used the time to get his confidence and approach squared away.
"It definitely gave me time to reset and draw things back," he said. "I felt like I was pressing, now I'm relaxed again. … They were just going out of the zone and I was chasing pitches. As a hitter, you've got to get a good pitch to hit, and it's just keeping it as simple as that. If I get a good pitch to swing at, I'm going to put it in play and probably drive it. But I'm not going to do well with balls bouncing and all out of the zone."
Ramirez threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings on Sunday against the White Sox, but was taken out before becoming eligible for the win. He's 1-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 13 starts for Seattle this year, including 0-1 with a 1.15 ERA in his last six outings.
Ramirez's demotion leaves the Mariners with only four starting pitchers on their 25-man roster, but with an off day coming up Thursday, they won't need a fifth starter until Tuesday, Aug. 19, in Philadelphia. He won't be eligible to return by that time, as players must stay in the Minors for a minimum of 10 days when they're optioned, but left-hander Roenis Elias -- who was optioned to Tacoma on Thursday after beating the White Sox for his ninth win of the season -- would be able to rejoin the club at that point.
Legend of Lloyd grows over time
SEATTLE -- With the Little League World Series scheduled to start this week in Williamsport, Pa., Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon faced the inevitable question Monday about his memories from his own youthful glory days.
McClendon was the star of a 1971 team from Gary, Ind., that lost to Taiwan in the championship game in Williamsport. McClendon hit five home runs in five at-bats in three games in the tournament, was intentionally walked in his other five chances and walked away with the nickname "Legendary Lloyd."
"That was 43 years ago," McClendon said Monday. "It was a little different. We didn't even know we were going to the World Series. We didn't even know what it was. Now it's so publicized. I'm not sure it's all for the best, to be honest with you, but I'm sure those kids are excited and happy they're going."
McClendon's message to Little Leaguers of any age is to have fun and enjoy the games and all that comes with them, something he was hard-pressed to do at one point in the 1971 tournament when Mickey Mantle was on the television broadcast crew and went to interview him.
"I tried to run," he said, shaking his head at the memory. "I literally tried to run away from him and he said, 'Come back here.' I was scared [to death]. I was in front of a legend. My God, this is Mickey Mantle. This is not supposed to be happening."
McClendon was then asked how he managed to hit six home runs in six swings.
"I got lucky," he said with a laugh. "But I can't lie, it was five. It's like the fish story, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger."
Rookie shortstop off to Taylor-made start
SEATTLE -- Chris Taylor has gotten off to a great start in the Majors, toting a healthy .400 batting average through his first 14 games with the Mariners.
The rookie shortstop has recorded a hit in each of his first 12 starts, but he isn't reading too much into his lofty numbers in 45 at-bats.
"I feel like every game I feel more and more comfortable," said the 23-year-old from Virginia. "And I've been pretty fortunate as far as hitting 'em where they're not as of late. That definitely helped me feel a little more relaxed. It's nice to get some hits when you come up. It's a tough game and it can be humbling at times. So hopefully that continues."
The youngster includes five doubles among his first 18 hits and has consistently hit the ball hard with an aggressive approach at the plate, but pitchers are just getting a book on him. And he knows hard-hit balls don't always lead to results.
"Logan Morrison has been a perfect example," he said, nodding at his nearby teammate in the clubhouse. "Just because you square a ball up doesn't mean you're going to get a hit. And even if you don't square it up, you might find a hit. Baseball is a funny game, but it's been on my side of late."
Brad Miller got the start at shortstop in Monday's series opener with the Blue Jays, but Miller now is adopting more of the utility role previously held by Willie Bloomquist. Taylor remains the regular starter and will get most of the time for now.
"He's playing for a couple reasons," manager Lloyd McClendon said of Miller's start on Monday. "He needs to get some at-bats. My old skipper used to say, 'Everybody needs to feel like a hero every now and then.' But more important is I need to give the kid a blow, too. He's been going at it and I'm sure it's been pretty emotional for him, too, this run he's been on. So it's a good chance to get him off his feet."
Taylor started nine of the previous 10 games at shortstop and has received only two full games off since his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma on July 24.
"I try to take advantage of the days I'm not starting and eat more than I do on the days I'm playing and really put a focus on getting a good workout in, a good lower-body workout because I know I'm not starting," he said. "But you still have to mentally be ready to play, obviously. You never know what can happen in the course of a game, so I have to stay locked in."
• Right fielder Michael Saunders went 1-for-5 in Monday's game for Triple-A Tacoma and is hitting .353 (6-for-17) with seven walks in five rehab games. McClendon said Saunders is close to being ready to rejoin the club health-wise from his strained oblique, but he was leaving the Rainiers for a few days after Monday's game to be with his wife for the birth of their second child and would likely need several games to gear back up.
• After pitching in the last three games of the White Sox series, McClendon said closer Fernando Rodney wouldn't be used in Monday's series opener with Toronto. Danny Farquhar will move into the closer role if needed.