Nick Franklin to big leagues?

 Nick Franklin was pulled from Tacoma’s game Tuesday night after eight innings and no injury was reported. This could mean nothing, but this kind of move usually means something.

It could mean Franklin was just traded, but more likely the switch-hitter is being summoned to the big leagues. If that is the case, I’d bet Logan Morrison is being placed on the disabled list. Now, that doesn’t mean Franklin comes to Seattle and plays right field every day. But it doesn’t mean he won’t play there, and if he hits, Lloyd McClendon is going to leave him in the lineup.

Franklin played right field in the Cactus League once, for an inning or two, and had to borrow a glove more fitting of an outfielder — middle infielder’s gloves are small so they can get the ball out quickly. Outfielders glove are longer with a bigger pocket. Three weeks ago Nick didn’t have an outfielder’s glove. Maybe he does now.

But for the shorter-term the Seattle Mariners could, in this scenario, find at-bats for Franklin without interrupting the rhythm of any of the other regulars. Over the next few weeks at least, Robinson Cano could be used at DH once and given a day of rest. Same goes for DH Corey Hart and shortstop Brad Miller. In theory, Franklin could DH, fill in at second and short and not play the outfield at all and it would be worth the call-up. In the long run, he needs a position or it’s a complete waste of talent.

Part of the reason why Franklin shouldn’t be thrown into the outfield fire with any regularity without dozens of game experience in the minors is because he could actually struggle there enough to hurt the team. He could also hurt himself; he doesn’t know where the outfield walls are, the shorter barriers in foul territory either, and he’s not well-schooled in anything an outfielder needs to do on tweener fly balls and pop-ups. All of the above are big risks. The more he plays right field without the proper work to get him ready for it, the higher the risk he hurts the team or himself — or even another player. And again, he’d also be high risk to make fundamental mistakes that hurt the team.

The M’s aren’t producing offensively with any consistency, however, and Franklin would immediately become one of the best nine bats on the team. Therefore, he should be recalled — if there is a move coming clearing a 25-man roster spot — and he should be used in whatever way he can get into the lineup.

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Jason A. Churchill

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