Mariners call up speedy Jones, option Farquhar
SAN FRANCISCO -- Outfielder James Jones, who played 108 games for the Mariners last year as a rookie, was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday to fill the opening created by the weekend release of Rickie Weeks.
Jones, 26, hit .250 with a team-leading 27 stolen bases last year in 312 at-bats. He's spent the first 10 weeks of this season in Tacoma, batting .264 with 15 stolen bases in 48 games.
Weeks was designated for assignment Saturday, with the team initially bringing up reliever Danny Farquhar to bolster a bullpen that needed help after several short outings from starters. Farquhar was optioned to Tacoma on Sunday after pitching in two games, and Jones now takes his spot on the 25-man roster.
The Mariners opted for Jones over veteran outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has hit .331 in 41 games for Tacoma, but continues dealing with the ankylosing spondylitis nerve condition that sidelined him last year.
"A lot of different factors went into it," said manager Lloyd McClendon. "But Jones brings speed, defense in the outfield and hopefully a spark in a different way for us. He's capable of stealing bases for you when you need them, even when they know he's going. We like that idea and particularly in a National League ballpark. We'll see how it goes for us."
Jones, a fourth-round Draft pick out of Long Island University in 2009, had the second-most stolen bases of any rookie in the Majors last year behind Billy Hamilton of the Reds, and his 96.4 percent success rate (27-for-28) was the second-highest mark for a rookie with 20-plus attempts since 1970 behind Quintin Berry of Detroit, who was 21-for-21 in 2012.
Jones started 72 games for Seattle last season -- 69 in center, two in right and one in left -- and recorded 46 runs, nine doubles, five triples and nine RBIs. He hit well initially, then struggled when pitchers adjusted to him. He said he learned from his experience and is ready to return.
"I just worked on getting better reads in the outfield and staying aggressive in the zone. Just keeping it that simple. I felt much better just doing that," Jones said. "I was chasing out of the zone [last year] and making it much easier for the pitchers. My legs are my asset, so I need to get the ball in play."
Jones should provide a needed speed element for a Mariners squad that entered Monday's series opener in San Francisco ranked 11th in the American League with 24 stolen bases this year, and Seattle was last in stolen-base percentage at 51 percent, having been thrown out 23 times.
"Obviously we don't have that," McClendon said. "That's a tool we're not blessed with on this current club and he brings that to the table. It can manifest itself in a lot of ways on both sides of the ball. So I'm kind of excited about that.
"He played a big part in our success last year. He came to the club and kind of energized and jump-started us and hopefully he can do that again."