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Franklin faces Darvish on first day back in bigs

Mariners start newly recalled infielder at DH against Rangers' ace

ARLINGTON -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wasted no time getting infielder Nick Franklin in the lineup, penciling the 23-year-old in at designated hitter on Wednesday against the Rangers' Yu Darvish shortly after he was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.

He got right in the action, too, tripling and scoring as Seattle took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. The Mariners ended up losing to the Rangers, 3-2.

McClendon said Franklin will likely play second base on Thursday to give Robinson Cano a day to DH, then Franklin could get time at shortstop, third base and even the outfield as things progress.

And that all sounds fine to Franklin, who hit .395 with four home runs in 11 games for Tacoma after losing out on the starting shortstop battle in Spring Training.

"Anything that will help the team win, I'm all for it," said Franklin, who saw his second-base job disappear when Cano was signed over the offseason. "My plan is to come here and work hard, just like I was in Tacoma, and go out there with a winning attitude and just have fun. Like I said in Spring Training, I'll do whatever it is to get in the lineup."

The Mariners recalled Franklin while placing right fielder Logan Morrison on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Tuesday, with a sore hamstring. The club also called up rookie outfielder James Jones from Tacoma and placed right-handed pitcher Blake Beavan on the DL with a sore right shoulder.

Jones, 25, was hitting .310 with seven runs, four home runs and four RBIs in 11 games for Tacoma. The Brooklyn native's first appearance with Seattle will be his Major League debut. He was added to give the Mariners some depth and versatility in their upcoming Interleague series against the Marlins in Miami.

"We're going to a National League ballpark, and he certainly can play defense and steal a base," McClendon said. "I'm not sure if there are a lot of at-bats for him, but I just thought it was the right move to make going into a National League ballpark with pinch-hitting, double switches, maybe a sacrifice bunt or whatever the case may be. I think he fits that mold and is your prototypical type player to do that."

McClendon said he'd be fine also playing Franklin in the outfield, even though he only played a few innings there in spring and has played only second base and shortstop since being drafted in the first round by the Mariners in 2009.

Franklin did play some outfield in his early high school years in Florida and sounded confident there as well.

"I'm really comfortable in the outfield," Franklin said. "It's a lot easier than the infield, that's for sure. Outfield is second nature. It's just go out there and have fun with it, but be smart at the same time."

McClendon said if Franklin produces with the bat, he'll find a way to play him, just like with any player. And with the Mariners getting shut out in three of their last six games, the first-year skipper is looking for answers.

"I'll try to fit him into what we're doing," McClendon said. "I still have other guys that have to play, and we have to get going. But one thing I've always said, managers don't make out the lineup. If a guy goes out and goes 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, it's amazing how that name is in the lineup the next day. That's just the way it works. So let's see how it goes."

Franklin hit .225 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs in 102 games for the Mariners last year and the switch-hitter was off to a hot start in Tacoma, batting .395 with three doubles, four home runs and 13 RBIs in 11 games (six at second base and five at shortstop).

The youngster wasn't happy with getting sent down in the Mariners' final cuts of Spring Training, but made the most of his time in Tacoma and now is back in the big leagues.

"It's just like a strike-three call," he said of his demotion. "You're not going to get to go back and change it to a ball. So you just deal with it. I wanted to go there and work on a couple things and as long as I could stay consistent and do the fundamentals right, that's all I was happy with."

After getting off to a nice start offensively, the Mariners (7-6) have fallen to 13th among the 15 American League teams in batting average (.230) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.663) going into Wednesday's games.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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