Mariners bring back Morales

SEATTLE — In the search for offensive help, the Seattle Mariners decided to bring back someone who has actually had some hitting success at Safeco Field.

On Thursday afternoon, the team reacquired designated hitter Kendrys Morales in a trade with the Minnesota Twins, sending minor-league reliever Stephen Pryor in exchange.

“It was an opportunity to bring Kendrys back,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “We had a dialogue over the winter and it just didn’t work. We are in a position to where we wanted to add a bat, I don’t think that’s a secret.”

Morales is expected to join the Mariners on Friday.

Manager Lloyd McClendon was pleased with the addition, believing it will give him another middle-of-the-order presence to join Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.

“He’s a professional hitter, and this gives us an opportunity to stretch out our lineup,” McClendon said. “He’s a nice fit. He’s a switch-hitter that can hit behind Robbie. It gives us options with what we want to do with Seager and where we want to hit him. I like it.”

After sitting out the first 2 1/2 months of the season as a holdout, Morales signed a one-year, $7 million free-agent contract with the Twins. In 39 games, he was hitting .234 with 11 doubles, a homer and 18 runs batted in. He has posted just a .584 slugging percentage. The weak numbers were mildly expected because of Morales’ truncated season and lack of spring training.

In his last 13 games, he has 14 hits, including six doubles.

“I don’t think there’s any question,” Zduriencik said of the lack of spring training. “I thought it was interesting that he went right to the big leagues, but that might have been part of the negotiations. We all know what Kendrys is and we know his career as a hitter. We all feel that Kendrys will hit his stride and be the Kendrys Morales we all know.”

Morales had five hits, including three doubles and five RBI, with the Twins at Safeco Field in early July.

“When they were here,” McClendon said, “I think you saw flickers of him coming out of it. His track record suggests that he’s going to hit.”

Morales was 5 for 15 with three doubles and five RBI in helping the Twins win three out of four games from July 7-10 at Safeco Field.

Cano is happy to have some help.

“We know what kind of numbers he put up last year for this team,” Cano said. “If you can hit in this ballpark, you can hit anywhere.”

Reports from Minnesota have said the Twins won’t eat any money on the deal, meaning the Mariners will pay the prorated remainder of the contract, just over $4million.

Last season Morales was one of the team’s best hitters, batting .277 with 34 doubles, 23 homers and 80 RBI. The Mariners tried to keep him in the organization, first offering a three-year, $30 million contract extension and then later exercising the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer, which he and his agent Scott Boras turned down.

Pryor made just one appearance for Seattle this season as a temporary fill-in for the bullpen. In 24 games with Class AAA Tacoma, he’s posted a 2-1 record with a 4.65 earned-run average. He underwent surgery last season to repair a torn right latissmus dorsi muscle. His return to his pre-surgery form has been gradual and incomplete. Pryor’s fastball has sat consistently at 92-94 mph this season, not the 96-98 mph before the injury.

More roster moves

Besides the trade for Morales, the Mariners made some additional roster moves. The have selected the contract of infielder Chris Taylor and recalled designated hitter Jesus Montero, both from Class AAA Tacoma.

They took the place of Taijuan Walker and Willie Bloomquist on the 25-man roster. Walker was optioned to Tacoma after last Wednesday’s game, while Bloomquist was placed on the 15-day disabled with a knee contusion. Bloomquist had an MRI on the knee on Thursday. He suffered the injury running to first base in Wednesday’s game.

Both Taylor and Montero were in the starting lineup on Thursday.

Taylor, 23, hit .328 (99 for 302) with 63 runs scored, 22 doubles, seven triples, five home runs and 37 RBI in 75 games with Tacoma. He is hitting .347 (26 for 75) over his last 19 games.

“I would say he will get his fair share of playing time,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.

What does that mean for Brad Miller? Does he move into Bloomquist’s role?

“I think we have the option of using both of those guys in that way and play them all over,” McClendon said.

Montero’s stay could be for one game and then be the roster casualty to make room for Morales.

“Montero is here and we’ll see what happens,” Zduriencik said. “Let’s hope he’s a contributor. I don’t want to put a time frame on anybody. He’s here tonight. He’s here to help us. And we’ll see what happens postgame.”


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