Rookie catcher sidelined with hand injury after getting hit on backswing
SEATTLE -- Rookie catcher Jesus Sucre was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Mariners on Saturday as infielder Carlos Triunfel was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take his spot on the 25-man roster.
Sucre has been sidelined by a left hand injury since getting hit by a bat on a backswing on Tuesday against the White Sox. Veteran Kelly Shoppach has played every inning at catcher since then -- including Wednesday's 16-inning marathon -- until rookie Brandon Bantz was inserted into the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon's game with the Yankees.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he didn't tell Bantz he'd be making his Major League debut until Saturday because "I wanted him to get some sleep."
Bantz was primarily a backup at Double-A Jackson to start the season before being promoted to Tacoma when Sucre was called up by the Mariners. He played three games in Tacoma as Mike Zunino's backup, then got the call to Seattle when the Mariners preferred not to disrupt Zunino's progress there for what was expected to be a temporary situation with Sucre's injury.
Now Bantz is starting against the Yankees and Wedge understands what that means to the youngster.
"It's the big leagues," Wedge said. "There's no story bigger than to have an opportunity to come up here and to have an opportunity to play and, as I say, to be in the books. That means everything. It's not a job, it's a dream. He's got an opportunity today that 99 percent of the people only dream of, so good for him."
Wedge leaned heavily on Shoppach, using the veteran for 38 straight innings, until it became clear Sucre wasn't going to return as quickly as hoped. Sucre doesn't have any broken bones, but does have a severe bone bruise and ligament damage that is making it impossible for him to swing a bat or catch.
"We tested everything yesterday and it's not what we had hoped or even anticipated," Wedge said. "So we put him on the DL and got Triunfel back up here."
Sucre was hitting .192 (5-for-26) with three RBIs in eight games after being called up to replace Jesus Montero on May 23. Montero is now on the disabled list with Triple-A Tacoma after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee earlier this week.
Triunfel, 23, was 0-for-13 in limited appearances for the Mariners when he was optioned to Tacoma to make room for Bantz. Players must spend at least 10 days in the Minors before being recalled, unless in the case of an injury that requires a player to go on the disabled list, as in this case with Sucre.
Triunfel was 3-for-8 in his two games back with Tacoma before being recalled and has hit .303 with 31 runs, four home runs and 19 RBIs in 46 games for the Rainiers this season.
Worth noting • Veteran right-hander Josh Kinney threw a simulated game to live hitters prior to Saturday's batting practice as he continued his return from a rib injury that has had him on the 60-day disabled list since Spring Training. Kinney threw well, according to Wedge, and will now be sent out on a Minor League rehab stint with Tacoma.
• First baseman Justin Smoak continued hitting off a tee and took some swings against Kinney as he continued his own return from a strained oblique muscle in his right side. He's eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, but appears headed first for some time in Tacoma as well.
"He took some hacks," Wedge said. "He's definitely in pretty good shape from the right side. We have to get the left side squared away before we activate him. He's going to go out for a couple days, too, it's just a matter of when."