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M’s trade Betancourt for two pitchers

The Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt was traded to Kansas City on Friday, giving the Royals a versatile infielder and Seattle a pair of minor league pitchers.

The 27-year-old Betancourt was hitting .250 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 63 games this season. He’s been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma after straining his left hamstring, and will continue rehabbing at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

The Royals also received cash considerations, while the Mariners get right-hander Danny Cortes and left-hander Derrick Saito. Cortes will report to Double-A West Tenn and Saito will head to Class A Clinton.

“The opportunity presented itself for us to acquire a pair of talented arms and as we move forward we felt this was the right thing to do at this time,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement.

Betancourt fled his native Cuba on a makeshift raft five years ago and signed with Seattle as a free agent in January 2005. He’s hit .279 with 27 homers and 202 RBIs in 588 career games, and signed a three-year contract extension in April 2007.

He’s struggled with plate discipline this season, drawing only 10 walks in 224 at-bats. He also was benched twice this season by manager Don Wakamatsu for lackluster play in the field.

The 22-year-old Cortes is 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in his last 11 games, after starting the season 0-4 for Northwest Arkansas. He was rated by Baseball America as the Royals’ top pitching prospect entering the spring.

The 21-year-old Saito is 2-6 with one save and a 4.26 ERA for Class A Burlington.

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