SEATTLE -- Leonys Martin smiled broadly as he was being fitted for his new Mariners cap on Sunday morning. The moment signified he'd earned another chance in the Majors, something he strived and toiled for since it was stripped from him earlier this year.Martin was called up from Triple-A Tacoma
SEATTLE -- Leonys Martin smiled broadly as he was being fitted for his new Mariners cap on Sunday morning. The moment signified he'd earned another chance in the Majors, something he strived and toiled for since it was stripped from him earlier this year.
Martin was called up from Triple-A Tacoma before Sunday's 9-1 victory over the Mets to fill outfielder Mitch Haniger's roster spot. He batted ninth and made an immediate impact, making a great diving catch in right field in the second inning. In the bottom half, Martin drilled a solo home run for his first of the season.
"It's great to have him back and contributing," Mariners manager Scott Servais said, emphasizing the contributing aspect. "Everybody loves Leonys' personality, but you have to do it in between the lines and he's off to a great start."
Haniger was officially placed on the 10-day disabled list after exiting Saturday's game due to being hit by a 95-mph fastball from Jacob deGrom.
Minor League infielder D.J. Peterson was designated for assignment to make room for Martin on Seattle's 40-man roster.
Martin was designated for assignment on April 23 after slashing .111/.172/.130 in his first 58 plate appearances. He was outrighted to Triple-A, where he found his stroke, slashing .312/.352/.506 in 346 at-bats for Tacoma.
"Every time you get called up to the big leagues is amazing," Martin said. "It's been a tough year for me, but it just keeps me strong and keeps me grinding. And I'm back. I'm back with my guys."
Martin showed he was deserving of another opportunity after staying the course and performing well in Triple-A.
"I think any player getting sent down like that was an adjustment period," Servais said. "First of all, it's a little bit of, 'Woe is me, why is this happening?' Then, after talking to the people down there, I think after the first 10 days or so, it's just accepting where you're at and how you're going to get better and how you get back. And the only way to do that is to play well and put up numbers. … He's done what he needs to do to get back in the picture here. Other guys have been playing so well that it was going to take an injury for it to happen for him. But we need him to contribute for us, step in right away."
His opportunity won't be brief. Haniger underwent surgery on Sunday morning after suffering a severe laceration on his upper lip. Servais said there are no fractures or serious damage to his teeth, but he expects him to be out "at least a couple of weeks."
He'll step into a different role than he's accustomed to. With Jarrod Dyson playing so well in center -- his eight defensive runs saved is the fourth best in the American League among center fielders, according to Fangraphs, Martin is shifting to more time on the corners, He's less acquainted with those outfield spots as he's only played 15 games in right field and eight in left in his seven-year career.
"I think Dyson's been great in center field. One of the best in the league," Servais said. "Not to take anything away from Leonys, but I'm going to leave Dyson out there. … Leonys has not played a lot on the corner so there might be a little bit of a learning curve. A lot of guys who play out there say center field is a little easier to read the ball off the bat. Doesn't have all the spin you have on the corners. So there could be a little learning curve there, but he's a really good athlete and he'll handle it fine."
Martin isn't fixated on proving he's worthy of sticking around in his current opportunity.
"He's a really good athlete and just a natural outfielder," Servais said. "His first step quickness and his instincts out there are tremendous. He hadn't been in right field in about four or five years, and to come in on that ball, top-spin hook on Granderson, [it was a] big play in the game early on. He's not afraid, that's for sure about Leonys. He'll always going to have a smile on his face and a great effort out there."
Martin came in with confidence and is showed.
"I have no pressure. I've been here before," Martin said. "I just come here to help my team to make the playoffs … it's my second year here, but I think we can do it. That's what I want to do, help my team get wins."
• Infielder Tyler Smith was claimed off waivers by Texas after being designated for assignment on Saturday. He hit .188 with an OPS of .513 in a brief 10-game stint with the Mariners this season.
Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle.