Aoki com­ing back

The Daily Herald - - BASEBALL - Bob Dut­ton, The News Tri­bune

Out­fielder Nori Aoki will be re­called Tues­day from Triple-A Ta­coma and re­main with the Mariners through the end of the sea­son. He should be in uni­form for Tues­day’s game against Texas.

The Mariners op­tioned Aoki to Ta­coma on Aug. 26 be­cause they an­tic­i­pated he would get lim­ited play­ing time against a pro­jected run of left-handed pitch­ers. The Mariners faced eight lefties in 10 games since Aoki’s de­par­ture.

Aoki, 34, has a .265 av­er­age and a .333 on-base per­cent­age this sea­son in 98 big-league games. He bat­ted .316 with a .362 OBP in 31 games af­ter a pre­vi­ous de­mo­tion to Ta­coma.

It’s un­cer­tain how much Aoki will play since he must now com­pete with Seth Smith and re­cently ac­quired Ben Gamel, who are also left-handed hit­ters, for play­ing time in a three-for-two ar­range­ment against right-handed starters.

That un­cer­tainty has fi­nan­cial and ca­reer im­pli­ca­tions for Aoki, who cur­rently has 389 plate ap­pear­ances. He needs 91 more to trig­ger a $5.5 mil­lion vest­ing op­tion for next sea­son.

Aoki also is poised to be­gin trig­ger­ing per­for­mance bonuses. He needs 11 more plate ap­pear­ances for a $100,000 bonus. Other $100,000 bonuses kick in at 425, 450, 475 and 500 plate ap­pear­ances.

LeBlanc clears waivers

Lefty Wade LeBlanc cleared waivers and was sent to Ta­coma on an out­right as­sign­ment. He was des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment Aug. 25 when lefty James Pax­ton re­turned from the dis­abled list.

LeBlanc must re­main in the mi­nors for at least 10 days un­less he re­places a player placed on the dis­abled list. In short, the Rainiers’ ro­ta­tion should get a boost as it opens its post­sea­son se­ries Wed­nes­day at El Paso.

The Mariners would also need to re­turn LeBlanc to the 40-man ros­ter to bring him back to the big-league club. Do­ing so would re­quire a cor­re­spond­ing ros­ter move be­cause the Mariners, as of Mon­day, had no openings on their ros­ter.

The Mariners ac­quired LeBlanc, 32, from Toronto on June 22 for a player to be named later or cash. He was 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 games, in­clud­ing eight starts, prior to be­ing des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment.

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