With Seager ailing, Mariners recall Freeman

Servais hopeful slugging 3B can play Friday; Zych optioned, LeBlanc designated

With Seager ailing, Mariners recall Freeman

CHICAGO -- With third baseman Kyle Seager's health uncertain for the next few days, the Mariners recalled utility man Mike Freeman before Thursday's 7-6 loss to the White Sox to provide some infield depth and optioned reliever Tony Zych back to Triple-A Tacoma.

Freeman, 29, has played primarily shortstop and second base during his seven years in the Minors, but can fill in at third if needed. Seager sat out Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Yankees with a bruised right foot after getting hit by a hard foul ball on Tuesday.

Seager has been extremely durable for the Mariners since being promoted to the Majors in mid-2011, having sat out just 15 games over the past five seasons. Utility man Shawn O'Malley started at third base Wednesday and was there Thursday, but the Mariners will have a hard time replacing the production of Seager, who is batting .286 with 24 home runs and a team-leading 83 RBIs.

Manager Scott Servais is hoping Seager might be back in a day or two at the most.

Seager's three-run jack

"Optimistically, fingers crossed, I'm hoping he'll be in there [Friday]," Servais said. "But I'd say we're 50-50 on that right now. He's pretty sore. We need him, there's no doubt. They have tough matchups with all the lefties, but even more so defensively and what he brings every night and just being a key guy in the middle of that lineup. We miss him when he's not in there."

The left-handed-hitting Freeman played two games for Seattle earlier this month -- one at short and one at second -- and was 2-for-6 with an RBI. He made his Major League debut earlier this season for the D-backs and was 0-for-9 in eight games as a backup outfielder, then was claimed off waivers by Seattle on Aug. 1.

The former Clemson standout has played just five games in the Minors at third base, and his lone start at that position came earlier this season in Tacoma. He's posted a .312/.381/.407 line with six home runs, 31 RBIs and 11 stolen bases in 105 games for Triple-A Reno and Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League this year.

"Not a ton," he said of his third-base experience. "I played probably more third in Spring Training. I've played there enough to feel comfortable. Just filling in wherever I can is the role I'm used to playing. I'll just fill in where I can. They call it the hot corner for a reason. You just have to be on your toes and ready for anything."

Freeman's first big-league RBI

Zych, a rookie right-hander, opened the year with the Mariners but then spent three months on the disabled list with a shoulder issue before being activated earlier this week. He pitched back-to-back games against the Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing three hits and one run with two walks and a strikeout in 1 2/3 innings.

Zych's departure leaves just six relievers on Seattle's 25-man roster, with closer Edwin Diaz, right-handers Tom Wilhelmsen, Arquimedes Caminero, Steve Cishek, Nick Vincent and lefty Vidal Nuno, though the Mariners will likely go back to seven once Seager is healthy enough to play again.

Worth noting

• Designated hitter Nelson Cruz was back in the lineup Thursday after coming out in the eighth inning Wednesday with back spasms, and Servais said he was "all systems go."

• With Wade LeBlanc designated for assignment to open a spot for James Paxton's return, the Mariners' rotation is set for the White Sox series with Felix Hernandez going Friday, Ariel Miranda on Saturday and Taijuan Walker on Sunday.

That lines up the Mariners to run their top three starters -- Hisashi Iwakuma, Paxton and Hernandez -- in the three-game series against the AL West-leading Rangers on Monday through Wednesday in Arlington.

• Former Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque, who signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners on Tuesday, gave up three hits and two runs in in 1 2/3 innings in his debut for Triple-A Tacoma in a 13-7 loss at Reno on Wednesday. The 30-year-old had a 3.20 ERA in 241 games over five seasons with Detroit. He's been primarily in Triple-A with the Angels this year, though he did pitch twice for the Halos, but was released Aug. 13.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com 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.