Vogelbach hit just .094 (5-for-53) with two home runs and four RBIs in 18 games for Seattle this season after also seeing his production fall dramatically in the second half of 2019. The 27-year-old is out of Minor League options.
The Mariners recalled outfielder Braden Bishop and utility man Sam Haggerty, and both were penciled in the lineup Wednesday night against the Dodgers at T-Mobile Park, the opener of a five-game homestand. Reliever Art Warren was optioned to the alternate training site, and veteran reliever Bryan Shaw was assigned outright to the alternate training site after being designated for assignment last week.
Vogelbach led the Mariners with 30 home runs in 2019, when he put up a .208/.341/.439 slash line with 76 RBIs in 144 games. Little of that power production came in the second half, as he batted .162 with nine homers and 25 RBIs in 59 games after the All-Star break.
With rookie Evan White installed at first base this year, Vogelbach’s only position was designated hitter. His lack of production led to his departure.
“Vogey had a tremendous first half of the season last year, and we all got on the Vogey train, so to speak,” manager Scott Servais said. “We all love Vogey. He’s a great personality and a guy you want to spend time with and be around. He’s a really good teammate. He was doing some great things for us early last year. In the second half, it certainly took another turn and he really struggled.
“At that point, we were exposing him to a lot of left-handed pitching and really gave him an opportunity to go out there and get over 500 plate appearances, which is great. He earned it. As we got going into this season, early on we didn’t see much adjustments. It certainly wasn’t from lack of work on his end. He’s trying to figure it out mechanically, but it just didn’t come together.”
On a young team looking to the future, the burly 270-pounder didn’t appear to have much of a future role.
“We tried to play him some at first base last year,” Servais said. “His strength is in the batter’s box and, hopefully, hitting it over the fence. But he doesn’t bring a whole lot other than the bat. And when that’s your big carrying tool, you have to hit. This is the do-good league, and where we’re at right now, we’ll give some of those at-bats and opportunities to some other players.”
“We’ll move it around,” he said. “There’s just a handful of teams anymore that just have the [full-time] DH. The Nelson Cruzes and Edwin Encarnacións are few and far between. It does lock your roster up a little if that guy doesn’t really have the ability to go out in the field. You really have to be productive in facing both the lefties and righties.”
• After missing his last start with neck spasms, Yusei Kikuchi is good to go Thursday against the Dodgers. Servais said Kikuchi’s workload will be monitored, but the lefty came out of a Tuesday bullpen throwing session without any issues.
• Rookie right-hander Justin Dunn has bounced back after taking a line drive off his ribs in his last start on Monday and is cleared to go in his next scheduled start Sunday against the Rangers.
• The news isn’t as good with catcher Tom Murphy, who was moved to the 45-day injured list on Wednesday. The club’s starting backstop has been sidelined all season by a small broken bone in his left foot, and Servais said Murphy is still in a walking boot. Murphy will be eligible to return on Sept. 4 and is attempting to come back before the season’s end, though there’s no assurance that will be possible.
• With outfielder Mallex Smith optioned to the alternate training site Tuesday, Bishop will be given a shot in right field in the coming days. The Mariners face left-handed starters in four of their next five games. Servais said Lewis will remain the center fielder, with Bishop working in a corner spot.
• The Mariners made a minor trade on Wednesday, acquiring right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis from the Padres in a cash deal. The 28-year-old has been pitching at San Diego’s alternate training site and will now do the same with the Mariners as part of their 60-man player pool.
Yacabonis is not on the 40-man roster, so he would need to be added if he’s ever promoted to the big league club. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder spent parts of the past three seasons with the Orioles and was 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA in 55 appearances, including 11 starts.