Lots of news to cover today, obviously. First of all, manager Eric Wedge said he expects Carlos Triunfel, flying to Seattle from Reno, to get here right around game time. He indicated that Triunfel will play shortstop, second and even some third base.
“He’s not going to play every day, but he’s going to get at least semi-regular playing time,” Wedge said.
Wedge and Jack Zduriencik had some interesting remarks on Nick Franklin, when asked why Triunfel was selected ahead of Franklin. Beyond the 40-man roster issues, both indicated that defense was a big factor.
“He’s where he needs to be right now,” Wedge said of Franklin. “He’s a young player. Needs to keep playing every day. It’s not just about hitting; it’s about every aspect of the game. We want him to be the most complete player he can be when he does get his opportunity.”
Said Zduriencik: “I think what Nick needs right now is to play down there every day, get his at-bats. He’s playing second and shortstop. I think most people would tell you, at least right now, Carlos is a more accomplished shortstop. I think that was a key component in why we wanted him up here. We like (Franklin) quite a bit. I think Nick just needs to stay down there and continue to swing the bat.”
Here’s Zduriencik take on the decision to cut loose Robert Andino and replace him with Triunfel:
“You evaluate everything at face value. As we watched Triunfel, what he did in spring training, what he did last year, of course, and as you watch what he’s done this year, I think all of us – the whole organization – felt this was a guy that’s a pretty good defensive player. He’s got a great throwing arm, and there was going to be a point in time when we needed to see him at the big league level. We thought that was important.
“The timing of all these things, you just decide when it is. He had almost two months down there in Triple-A. He’s been very successful there this year. You get to the point you make a decision on this player moving forward, as well as the other factors. With Robert Andino, we signed him this year to be a backup infielder. We thought it would probably be a short-term deal. You just evaluate where you’re at, and where you’re going, and what you’re trying to accomplish. I think with Triunfel, and the things he’s done, he deserves a chance to be up here right in front of our eyes so we can watch this kid play.”
Wedge said catcher Jesus Sucre impressed him in spring training, and that he felt it was best to throw him right into the lineup. Here’s Wedge on the decision to send down Jesus Montero and cut back his catching responsibilities:
“It’s been a long process for us. It’s not something we just started talking about. We’ve been trying to give him every opportunity we could, and still trying to protect him, still trying to get his bat going, still trying to take care of him physically. In the end, his bat – that’s the carrying tool. With as much time, effort, emotion and energy he had to put in behind the plate, it didn’t seem like we were putting him in the position to succeed offensively.
“He’s still going to catch some down there. He’ll back up Zunino. He’s going to get a first baseman’s glove. He’ll be working at first base every day. We’ll start him off DH’ing down there. Hopefull, we’ll get him on first base as soon as possible, and still have him catch one or two days a week, the focus being on getting that bat going.”
It didn’t escape Wedge’s notice that Montero reported immediately to Tacoma when contractually he could have taken three days to do so.
“That does mean something that he did report right away,” he said. “I was proud of him for doing that.”
Zduriencik pointed out that other players who started as catchers have thrived at first base, including Paul Konerko.
“I’m not saying that’s going to happen with Jesus, but more than anything else, this helps his versatility,” Zduriencik said. “It helps us evaluate where we are as an organization going into next year, and quite frankly the rest of this year. It allows this player to take a step back and get himself back on track offensively.”
Zduriencik added that there’s no timetable for Montero’s return to the majors.
“I wouldn’t do that. I don’t think that’s a fair thing to do….He just has to play. It’s not an embarrassment to be in the big leagues and get sent back to Triple-A. This happens to many players.”