The Mariners made three roster moves ahead of game with Chicago White Sox Wednesday. They called up catcher Brandon Bantz from AAA Tacoma, sent INF Carlos Triunfel back to the Rainiers, and placed OF Franklin Gutierrez on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to April 23. Gutierrez, on the DL for the fifth time, is eligible to come off June 22.
Bantz was brought up due to the hand injury suffered by Jesus Sucre Tuesday night when he was struck by a backswing. Manager Eric Wedge said he hoped Sucre would be out only three to four days. Sucre was replacing Jesus Montero, wh0 was sent down to Tacoma last week, then underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a tear in his meniscus tear in his left knee. He’s expected to be out four to six weeks.
When he gets back, he may out a much longer time. Montero’s name was among at least 20 MLB players who face potential suspensions in connection with performance enhancing drugs. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” reported Tuesday that stars including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera are being interviewed about their connections to Tony Bosch, founder of the now-shuttered Biogenesis of America in Miami, and his alleged distribution of PEDs.
Two sources told ESPN that MLB investigators reached an agreement this week with Bosh to cooperate by providing testimony and documents, starting as soon as Friday, that would provide MLB the evidence officials believe they need to suspend the players. MLB sued Bosch in March, an his decision to cooperate is believed to end the suit and help him attempt to avoid federal prosecution.
A source familiar with the case said the commissioner’s office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players’ connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.
After striking a deal with the players union to create a Joint Drug Agreement, MLB is empowered to suspend players without a positive test. All it needs is proof that they used a banned PED, or possessed one, or did business with someone like Bosch and then lied about it when confronted.
When the news broke in February that Montero’s name was found among clinic documents, the catcher denied any knowledge or participation. The Mariners said in a statement Wednesday that they are aware of the situation but declined to elaborate. Wedge in a radio interview Wednesday with 710 ESPN said he had no comment.
Bantz, 26, has appeared in 17 games with AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma this season. He combined to bat .200 (11×55) with two home runs and five RBIs. Behind the plate, he has thrown out 14 of 23 attempted base stealers (61 percent).
The Mariners selected Bantz in the 30th round of the 2009 amateur draft out of Dallas Baptist University. He is a native of Arlington, TX.
“It’s a temporary move,” Wedge said of Bantz. “And good for him. He’s a big leaguer. I saw him a few times in spring training. We called him up a few times (to major league camp). We don’t want to disrupt anybody else down there right now.”
Kelly Shoppach, 33, hitting .195 in 28 games for Seattle, started Wednesday and is expected to start until Sucre, 25, hitting .192 in eight games, returns.