The Mariners have called up catcher-designated hitter Jeff Clement who was named the # 10 ranked top sleeper in the American League by Fantasy Baseball Dugout.
Clement got his first start on Thursday night against the Indians and had a walk and was 0-2 in three at bats as the Mariners’ catcher before being removed for a pinch runner in the eighth. Clement had a pinch hit single on Wednesday night in Cleveland.
The best thing for Clement is that he caught Miguel Batista for seven innings and Batista only gave up four hits with Clement calling the signals. The problem with Clement has never been his hitting, that’s for sure. It’s been his defense. Not that he’s bad or anything, but college catchers don’t call ballgames, coaches do; and, Clement has been at USC since being the M’s first round draft choice after the 2005 season. His arm is also possibly not major league quality.
Still, with Kenji Johjima as Seattle’s top backstop, Clement is going to see most of his action as the DH, especially now with the Mariners having optioned veteran Greg Norton to Tacoma. The tough luck Norton, 35, was hitting .438 with an on base percentage of .500. The primary DH will remain Jose Vidro, but the 33-year-old former Expo Vidro is not exactly stinging the ball with a .202 average and just one dinger.
Johjima is off to a miserable start, hitting just .184 with only 5 RBI’s in his first 76 AB’s. But, the M’s recently signed Johjima to a three year deal and they wouldn’t have done that if Johjima wasn’t pegged as their main catcher. The Mariners also have Jamie Burke with the club as the back-up and most teams don’t carry three catchers.
“We’re going to get Jeff his at bats as the designated hitter, occasionally behind the plate, and he’ll pinch hit,” said manager John McLaren. “He’s going to get plenty of at bats. We’re going to flip people around and try to put us in the best possible situation to succeed.”
Clement had a cup of coffee with the big club last September when he smashed two homers in just 16 at bats. “This is a lot different than last time,” said the former Team USA star, ”just because its’ early in the season and I am expected to help the team win.”