Mariners center fielder Austin Jackson was placed on the 15-day disabled list today, one day after suffering a right ankle sprain while legging out an infield grounder.
Jackson originally hoped to avoid the disabled list, but Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune that he wasn’t expected to be ready in two or three days and they didn’t want to go short-handed. Justin Ruggiano is expected to handle the majority of the playing time in center field during his absence.
Jackson is off to a slow start this season, batting just .242/.294/.326 with two home runs and four RBI over 25 games.
In addition to placing Jackson on the disabled list, the Mariners brought up infielder Chris Taylor and relievers Mark Lowe and Joe Biemel from Triple-A Tacoma while designating left-hander Mike Kickham for assignment and placing outfielder Julio Morban on the restricted list for personal reasons.
Chris Taylor has been competing with Brad Miller for the Mariners’ starting shortstop job this spring, but he’ll now begin the season on the disabled list.
Greg Johns of MLB.com reports that Taylor will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his right wrist. The 24-year-old suffered the injury when he took a pitch off his wrist in the sixth inning Friday against the Brewers. The pitch was ruled as a foul tip and Taylor actually completed the at-bat by reaching on a single. However, tests later revealed the bad news.
Taylor batted .287/.347/.346 over 151 plate appearances as a rookie last season and was off to a nice start at the plate this spring. He’ll have to wait to push Miller for the job.
Though the Mariners had offered shortstop Brad Miller as part of a package in an effort to acquire outfielder Matt Kemp from the Dodgers recently, Mariners officials contend the club is not actively looking to move him. One official said explicitly, “We’re not looking to trade him,” reports Bob Dutton of The News Tribune.
The Kemp deal stalled, Dutton writes, when the Dodgers insisted on receiving either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton along with Miller and others. Kemp was eventually traded to the Padres.
As for Miller, there were even some rumors that the Mariners would consider him as an outfield option if they failed to make another deal. They have made a three-year offer to free agent Melky Cabrera and could still have others, such as Michael Morse, on their radar. The Mariners were also interested in trading for Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, which would obviously displace Miller if he did not switch locations in such a trade.
For now, Miller is likely to be the Mariners’ starting shortstop on Opening Day after batting .221/.288/.365 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI in 411 plate appearances last season. Should Miller not get the nod, Chris Taylor would.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal brings the scoop …
Ian Desmond can become a free agent after 2015 and the Nationals might be feeling like they’re not going to be able to afford him. The 29-year-old shortstop has tallied 20-plus homers and 20-plus steals in each of the last three seasons. He turned down a six-year, $80-$90 million contract extension last winter.
Brad Miller had a dreadful 2014 in Seattle, batting .221/.288/.365 in 123 games, and eventually losing his starting shortstop job to Chris Taylor. But Miller was a monster in the minors and comes with five years of contractual control. He’s only 25 years old.
Watch as Mariners rookie shortstop Chris Taylor making a diving stop before throwing out Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez from the outfield grass. Oh, and we also get a bonus collision between Martinez and Logan Morrison at first base. Fortunately nobody got hurt here, so this video is just a lot of fun to watch.
Called up last month amid the struggles of Brad Miler, Taylor has seized his opportunity at the starting shortstop job by hitting .385 (20-for-52) with five doubles and four RBI over his first 18 games in the majors.