Mariners activate Olivo from DL; option Wells
By TIM BOOTH
SEATTLE (AP) Catcher Miguel Olivo was activated from the 15-day disabled list by the Seattle Mariners on Thursday after missing close to a month with a strained right groin muscle.
The clear a roster spot, reserve outfielder Casper Wells was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. There was some speculation that Seattle might consider keeping Wells - Seattle's main late-game defensive replacement in the outfield - and releasing benched veteran Chone Figgins.
But Figgins remained on the roster and he will for the foreseeable future. Manager Eric Wedge was adamant before Thursday's game that there are no thoughts at this time of releasing Figgins
Since the decision was made earlier this month to bench Figgins, he's appeared in just four games. Figgins was given first shot at leading off in the hope Seattle could finally get some value after the $36 million, four-year deal he signed before the 2010 season. But his .189 average on May 3 precipitated the change.
Now he's a seldom-used utility player, although his versatility to play in the infield and outfield is part of the reason he remained on the roster.
"Right now that's not even an option with us. With Chone we wanted to give him every opportunity to get back on track. We felt like we did that leading him off and switching his role a little bit and it didn't work out. So now he is a utility player and a super utility player in that he gives us protection. We'll play him when we need him. We'll use him as we see fit to help us win ball games and we'll see from there."
Wells had appeared in just 25 games and was hitting .213. Wedge hopes Wells can get regular playing time and at-bats with Tacoma.
Olivo was in the starting lineup for the series opener against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night despite a delayed flight back to Seattle on Wednesday night that didn't land him back in the Pacific Northwest until after 3 a.m. Thursday morning.
Catcher is another position Wedge will need to juggle. Rookie Jesus Montero and John Jaso have split the duties since Olivo was injured in the ninth inning on April 30 against Tampa Bay. Olivo was fielding a ball between the plate and the mound when he injured his groin. Wedge prefers having a third catcher on the roster when one - typically Montero - is the designated hitter.
"It's nice to have different options," Wedge said. "I'm not going to sit here and tell everybody exactly how we're going to handle this, but they're all going to play."
Olivo appeared in three rehab games with Tacoma and got an early test in his rehab assignment when in the first inning of his first rehab game he was forced to make a similar play to the one he was injured on. Olivo is hitting .210 with four homers and seven RBIs in 23 games this season.
Updated May 24, 2012