February 26, 2014 in Sports

Franklin trade remains possible

Ryan Divish Seattle Times
Associated Press photo

Rays are interested in M’s infielder Nick Franklin.
(Full-size photo)

Stearns sidelined by surgery

 John Stearns wasn’t going to let a little something like major surgery keep him away from the ballpark.

 The Mariners’ third-base coach underwent surgery to repair a hiatal hernia Monday at Arrowhead Hospital. On Tuesday, he wandered into the Mariners clubhouse around noon, wanting to see what was going on.

 “I’m doing pretty well,” Stearns told Mariners staffers.

 Stearns will not be allowed to participate in baseball activities for four to six weeks. McClendon said he and general manager Jack Zduriencik are meeting to discuss internal options for the third-base coaching spot.

PEORIA, Ariz. – Nick Franklin likes to joke that according to the Twitter-fueled and rumor-driven baseball hot stove, he’s been “traded 20 times by the Mariners.”

Well, he might want to change that to 21.

On Tuesday, another team was added as a possible destination for the Seattle Mariners infielder.

CBS Sports reported that the Tampa Bay Rays have contacted the Mariners about acquiring Franklin. On Monday, it was the New York Mets.

“I’ve heard it,” Franklin said. “I’m not completely oblivious. It’s human nature to want to look at it. But I usually try not to worry about it.”

This isn’t anything new for Franklin. He was actually traded, along with Taijuan Walker, Stephen Pryor and another player to Arizona for outfielder Justin Upton before the 2013 season. But Upton exercised his no-trade clause and the deal fell apart.

Franklin was called up last May 27 and appeared in 102 games. He hit .225 with 20 doubles, 12 homers and 45 RBI.

Still, he became a man without position when the M’s signed Robinson Cano.

The Mariners have told Franklin that he’s in an open competition with Brad Miller for the shortstop position. Franklin has relished the competition, coming into camp stronger and intent on showing he can handle the defensive requirements of the position.

The Mets would be looking at Franklin as a shortstop. Their incumbent – Ruben Tejada – was less than stellar last season.

The Rays would likely use Franklin as a second baseman, paired with shortstop Yunel Escobar.

Seattle could use starting pitching or outfield help.

The Rays rumors broke when Franklin was participating in the Mariners’ intrasquad game Tuesday. He lashed a two-run homer to right-center off left-hander Jimmy Gillheeney.

Franklin isn’t going to worry.

“I’m a Seattle Mariner,” he said. “And I’m on the Seattle Mariners until someone tells me that I’m not.”

M’s edge M’s

In the first real baseball action of the spring, the Mariners prevailed with a 4-3 victory over … the Mariners.

“I saw some good things; I saw some bad things,” M’s manager Lloyd McClendon said. “That’s expected. We’ll build the strengths and work on the weaknesses.”

Slugging minor-league outfielder Jabari Blash, who hit a combined 25 homers in Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson, provided the highlight of the game, crushing a mammoth solo homer to left off reliever Logan Bawcom.

Stefen Romero showed power, too, blasting a two-run homer to center field in the first inning of lefty Anthony Fernandez.

Walker plays long toss

Pitcher Taijuan Walker played catch from about 100 feet with trainer Rick Griffin and pitching coach Rick Waits.

“It went good,” McClendon said. “He’s scheduled to long toss again (today).”

Walker was bothered by shoulder soreness early in camp.

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