Mariners bring up Liddi, option Maurer
Versatile callup can play corners, outfield; Bonderman likely for Sunday
SAN DIEGO -- Infielder Alex Liddi has been recalled from Triple-A Tacoma and was in uniform Wednesday night as Seattle opened a two-game set against the Padres at Petco Park.
To make room on the 25-man roster, rookie pitcher Brandon Maurer was optioned to Tacoma. Maurer, 22, has been in the rotation all season, but went 2-7 with a 6.93 ERA in 10 starts.
The Mariners will make another roster move prior to Sunday's game in Minnesota, which would have been Maurer's next start. They could use reliever Hector Noesi to fill that role as he's already on the roster, but most likely will promote right-hander Jeremy Bonderman from Tacoma.
Manager Eric Wedge said a decision has been made on who'll start Sunday, but the team isn't ready to announce it yet.
Bonderman was pulled from his Tuesday start for the Rainiers after allowing one run on five hits in four innings. The 30-year-old veteran is 2-4 with a 4.52 ERA in 11 starts with Tacoma and has an opt-out date on his Minor League contract approaching at the end of the month.
Liddi, 24, was batting .267 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 50 games for Tacoma. He provides some roster relief at first base, third base or in the outfield for a Mariners club that is temporarily without first baseman Justin Smoak and outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse due to minor injuries.
Neither Smoak nor Morse is on the disabled list, but Morse remained behind in Seattle due to a strained quadriceps, while Smoak is scheduled to take batting practice Wednesday for the first time since feeling tightness in his right oblique muscle last Saturday.
Liddi played 53 games for Seattle in 2011-12, batting .224 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in 53 games. The native of Sanremo, Italy, is the first Italian born and raised player to play in the Majors.
"It's always nice to be back in the big leagues," Liddi said. "That's where you want to be, so it's nice be back here."
Wedge said Maurer just needs time to develop his game at Triple-A, a level he skipped this season in going straight to the rotation out of Double-A Jackson.
"The biggest thing is just staying consistent with his tempo and mindset and approach over the course of the game," Wedge said. "[Tuesday] was a good example. He starts out good, then things start to happen and he tries to do a little bit more. That's when you lose release point and command and that's where he gets into trouble.
"It's not that his pitches weren't doing what they need to do. His stuff is legit. He's going to be a big league pitcher for a long time. But he just has to get himself in the right position to execute pitches consistently throughout the course of a game."
Smoak close to return; Morse undergoes tests in Seattle
SAN DIEGO -- Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak hit in the batting cage and then took batting practice on Wednesday afternoon and said the oblique muscle in his right side is feeling much better and he's close to being game ready.
But right fielder Michael Morse remained behind in Seattle to undergo tests on a strained quadriceps on Wednesday and manager Eric Wedge said the hope is he'll be back in three to five days, possibly rejoining the team Friday in Minnesota.
Smoak felt his oblique tighten up during Saturday's game against the Rangers and hasn't played since.
The 25-year-old said he's fine fielding his position and the main thing holding him back now is being able to swing full-out left-handed.
"Right-handed feels fine," said the switch-hitter. "Left-handed, it's a lot better today than yesterday."
Smoak said he had a similar injury, but much worse, in his first year of pro ball when he missed more than a month at Double-A.
"I've had it before on the left side," he said. "Thank God I was smarter than I normally am. I'm normally going to play through it, but when I felt what I felt, I knew what I had done before and didn't want to feel that again. I tried to get out of there and take care of it."
Smoak said he might be available to pinch-hit on Wednesday, at least right-handed, and certainly feels he'll be ready to help out in the next few days.
"I can pinch-run, too," Smoak said with a grin.
Kendrys Morales got the start at first base again on Wednesday.
Wedge addresses comment on Ackley, sabermetrics
SAN DIEGO -- After the Mariners sent Dustin Ackley down to Triple-A Tacoma on Monday, manager Eric Wedge drew considerable heat for a comment about the struggling second baseman's mindset at the plate being affected by the growing focus on sabermetrics.
"It's the new generation," Wedge said that day as part of several lengthy answers to questions on Ackley's struggles. "It's all this sabermetrics stuff, for lack of a better term, you know what I mean? People who haven't played since they were 9 years old think they have it figured out. It gets in these kids' heads."
Wedge was asked about the comment Wednesday and said he uses sabermetics and statistical analysis all the time, but feels hitters need to maintain an aggressive mindset at the plate and not get overly caught up in working deep into counts in an attempt to bolster their on-base percentages.
"Hey, I use the numbers as much as anybody," Wedge said. "I used the numbers in Cleveland. And Cleveland was one of the first teams to really dive into it with Mark Shapiro leading the way. So I've always been a big fan of using the numbers.
"But you are talking about one comment and they weren't there for the entire conversation. We were talking about the mental side of it. We were talking about Ackley. That's not the reason Ackley was having issues at home plate. What I'm talking about is this recent generation of players that has come up in the sabermetrics world. It's something that's out there and people know how important it is.
"What you can't do is play this game with fear. You have to go out there and play and when you get your first good pitch to take a whack at, you have to take a whack at it. People stress so much getting deeper in counts and drawing walks, it's almost a backward way of looking at it."
Wedge feels the issue took on a life of its own because he poked the sabermetric bear.
"When I bust somebody's chops or make a joke at it, you can take it in a light-hearted way or you can take it personally," he said. "Quite frankly, I don't care either way. But the fact of the matter is, sabermetrics is a part of the game of baseball. It has been for a while. It's my job to see it from all ways.
"What people have to see is these are human beings. They are not widgets. It's not XYZ corporation -- something out of a book. These are human beings. And that's the thing you have to factor in the most. They have emotions. They have families. You have ups and downs and everything that goes along with it. Things you can't read on a piece of paper.
"But it's most definitely part of it. I use it each and every day. It's not the end all. It's not just black and white. It's got to be a nice blend between the human factor and the numbers. You have to be able to go out there and motivate these guys and treat them as human beings as well. So for those who I offended, I'm sorry about that. One thing you have to have in this game is broad shoulders and a thick skin. That's something that is part of it, too."
• Second baseman Dustin Ackley went 0-for-4 on Tuesday in his first game since being sent down to Triple-A Tacoma. Jesus Montero again played first base and went 1-for-4 with a double and is batting .217 in six games with the Rainiers.
• Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was given Tuesday off as he continues his injury rehab stint with Tacoma. He's batting .191 in 11 games.