Mariners call up Cuban OF Heredia

Mariners call up Cuban OF Heredia

CHICAGO -- Guillermo Heredia, a 25-year-old Cuban outfielder who signed with Seattle in March, was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday as the Mariners looked to add some versatility and speed to their outfield and bench.

Although Heredia will be a useful addition for the three-game Interleague series against the Cubs, manager Scott Servais indicated he could play a role beyond this weekend, depending on how things play out with Monday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"We'll see how it happens," Servais said prior to Friday's 12-1 loss to the Cubs. "I don't want to get ahead of ourselves. We all know what week we're in, and things can change here at any minute with the roster as we go toward the Trade Deadline."

Heredia, who entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement in right field and struck out in his debut Friday, can play any of the three outfield spots, and he provides some athleticism and defensive ability as a right-handed-hitting option. He hit .340 with a .385 on-base percentage in 26 games at Tacoma after a midseason promotion from Double-A Jackson.

"We want to get him comfortable," Servais said after Heredia flew overnight from Seattle to join the team in Chicago. "I think he's a guy that can come in late in the game, pinch-hit, pinch-run, do those type of things. We will get him some starts here eventually."

Heredia, 25, hit .285 in 374 games in the Cuban National Series before defecting in 2015. Because of political reasons, Heredia hadn't played competitive baseball since '14 when he signed with Seattle. As a 21-year-old with Matanzas in the 2011-12 season in Cuba, Heredia hit .343/.439/.527 in 443 plate appearances and won a Gold Glove Award in center field.

"Obviously, it was a big sacrifice to finally get here," Heredia said through translator Fernando Alcala. "It's been a lot of work and a big change this year. I'm glad to finally be here."

The Mariners were close to bringing Heredia up last week, but he hurt his right shoulder diving back to first base and missed four games before getting back in the lineup on Thursday in Tacoma. Servais is interested to see how he might fit in going forward, and he says the reports indicate that Heredia has strong instincts and above-average speed in the outfield.

"He can play center," Servais said. "Obviously, Leonys [Martin] has done a nice job out there. But he'll be able to see some time in the corners, as well. We'll get a chance to get him in there. I'm excited. The reports have been very good. He's probably been better than what we initially thought with the bat. He made some good adjustments at Double-A and carried it over and did a really nice job in Tacoma."

Heredia said the biggest challenge this year has been getting used to a different style of pitching.

"Obviously, it's different than Cuba," he said. "Here, they focus more on fastball and changeup, and adjusting to that has been one of the biggest things."

Left-handed reliever David Rollins was optioned to Tacoma to open a 25-man roster spot for Heredia. The 26-year-old is 1-0 with a 7.04 ERA, six strikeouts and seven walks in nine relief appearances over four stints with the Mariners this season. He was acquired as a Rule 5 Draft pick in December 2014.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.