BY John Hickey 04:56PM 12/13/2010

Rob Johnson designated by Mariners

Last year’s starting catcher is out to make room for newly acquired free agent Jack Cust

Jack Aduriencik Seattle Mariners 2010

Jack Zduriencik continued his rehaul of the Mariners, designating catcher Rob Johnson for assignment

Rob Johnson’s move from flavor of the day to outcast in the space of a single season isn’t unprecedented, but it is impressive.
Johnson began the 2010 season as the Mariners’ starting catcher. As of Monday, however, he was designated for assignment by the club, meaning Seattle has 10 days to trade him, release him or, if he clears waivers, send him to the minor leagues.

Johnson had three surgeries in November, 2009, one on each hip and another on the left wrist. He pushed hard to get back and made it in spring training, but it was obvious that he was never as healthy in 2010 as he should have been.

Seattle pitchers loved throwing to Johnson. Felix Hernandez, in particular, requested that Johnson catch his games whenever possible. And that may happen again, but only if Johnson isn’t traded and agrees to come to spring training as on a minor league contract.

The Mariners needed room on the 40-man roster for outfielder/DH Jack Cust, who was signed at the winter meeting last week.

Seattle also signed former Mariner Miguel Olivo during their time at the meetings, although the deal won’t be officially announced until sometime later this week. When that happens, the Mariners will need to make another roster move.

The plan now is for Olivo, who is getting a two-year, $7 million package, to be the starting catcher with Adam Moore as his backup.

Moore took over from Johnson midseason when Johnson’s .191 batting average and suddenly deteriorating defense forced the Mariners to make a move.

Twitter: @JHickey3