Top Mariners prospects Kelenic, Gilbert coming up to majors

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LOS ANGELES — The Seattle Mariners’ future has arrived.

Two major parts of it, anyway.

The Mariners will call up touted outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic and promising right-hander Logan Gilbert before Seattle’s home series opener against Cleveland, manager Scott Servais confirmed Wednesday night after a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers.

Gilbert will be on the mound at T-Mobile Park on Thursday to make his major league debut.

“It’ll be an exciting day for those young players tomorrow,” Servais said. “Looking forward to having them on our roster and see what they can do. They’ve both got bright futures.”

The Mariners didn’t immediately announce all of their transactions, but Servais said they are optioning outfielder Taylor Trammell back to the minors, and the club is likely to add a third player as well.

After AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, Evan White and Justin Dunn led a wave of young talent reaching Seattle last season, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto decided the time is right to unveil two more of their top prospects in front of their home fans this weekend. The Mariners have dropped below .500 with four consecutive losses, but they’re still in third place in the AL West.

“I think both Jerry and myself have referenced it in the past – it was going to be waves of players coming,” Servais said. “This is maybe the first part of the second wave that’s crashing on the shore. They’re exciting young players. We need them to contribute. We’ve got off to a decent start. Haven’t played well the last week. Hopefully they can jump-start us and get us back on the right track.”

The 21-year-old Kelenic is considered one of the top prospects in baseball. The Mets drafted the Milwaukee-area native with the sixth overall pick in 2018 before trading him to Seattle several months later in the deal for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz.

Kelenic has spent only the past week with Triple-A Tacoma after being sidelined early in spring training with a left knee injury, but the Mariners think he’s ready.

Kelenic was angry with the Mariners earlier this year after former team president Kevin Mather infamously said Kelenic and Gilbert wouldn’t make the opening day roster because it would have affected the team’s long-term contractual control over them. Kelenic and his agent claimed his service time was being manipulated, although Dipoto denied it.

Seattle chose Gilbert 14th overall in 2018, eight picks after Kelenic went to New York. Gilbert made his Triple-A debut last Friday with five innings of four-hit ball, but Seattle isn’t waiting any longer.

The Mariners believe Gilbert is ready, but they also need another starter. James Paxton is out for the season after Tommy John surgery, while Marco Gonzales (left forearm) and Nick Margevicius (left shoulder) are injured.

Trammell made his major league debut on opening day, but is batting .157 in 27 games.

“I thought Taylor Trammell really showed us a lot of positive things in his time here,” Servais said. “There’s a lot to like. He just needs to go play every day. He’ll be back here at some point.”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.