To fill the roster spot of Abraham Almonte, who busted as a leadoff hitter and centerfielder and was sent down to AAA Tacoma Sunday night, the Mariners Monday called up OF James Jones, who had a short stay in April. Jones joins the team team in Oakland, where the Mariners play the A’s at 7 p.m. in the first of four games.
Jones, 25, had a hit in his first and only major league at bat April 18 in Miami. In 21 games with the Rainiers, he hit .321 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBI and five stolen bases, and had a 10-game hitting streak.
Despite a mediocre spring, the Mariners tried to force Almonte into a major league role for which he was not ready. He started 25 games and hit .198 and had an American League-high 40 strikeouts. He also had a team-high five errors and several other misplays. His whiff on a fly ball in Houston Friday night finally forced manager Lloyd McClendon to abandon the experiment.
In the past four games hitting leadoff, Michael Saunders is 8 for 18 with two doubles and four RBI. He had a season-high three hits Thursday in New York. This season, Saunders has hit in the leadoff spot in six games: .391 with four runs, two doubles, a hoe run and five RBI.