Motter sliding back into utility role

Servais says versatile infielder will get some starts

Motter sliding back into utility role

SEATTLE -- After his torrid start, Mariners rookie Taylor Motter has cooled off at the plate over the last two weeks and his playing time has decreased as Seattle's lineup has solidified. But manager Scott Servais said the utility man likely will get the start Saturday in right field against Rangers lefty Martin Perez and will continue to see time in various roles going forward.

Motter posted a .321/.387/.786 line in his first 10 games while filling in for injured shortstop Jean Segura, but those numbers dropped to .163/.217/.372 over his past 12 games. And while he's had some big moments -- and seven doubles and five homers among his 16 hits on the season -- his average is down to .225.

With Ben Gamel filling in well in right field for the injured Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager playing regularly again after a few missed games at third and first baseman Danny Valencia finally heating up at the plate, it's been harder for Servais to find playing time for Motter.

"A little bit," Servais said. "He stepped up in a huge point for us. None of us were expecting that. He came back down and the league started to understand how his swing works and what he's doing at the plate. I thought he gave us a key at-bat in that game the other night [drawing a walk to set up Jarrod Dyson's game-tying double against the Angels].

"I'm very comfortable using him off the bench, knowing he can drive a ball in the gap or maybe out of the park. But mainly just giving you good at-bats. He's kind of sliding back into the role we anticipated."

The club added a second utility player on Friday, recalling Mike Freeman from Triple-A Tacoma and sending outfielder Boog Powell down. That could open additional opportunities for Motter since Freeman can be held in reserve to fill any spots in an emergency.

"Michael can play all over the field as well and that allows us to use Motter earlier in games if we want, knowing you have somebody else you can run out at shortstop or middle of the infield if you had a problem," Servais said. "And we've got some National League games coming up here on the next road trip going to Philly, so you always need versatility going into those games so that played into it.

"We want Boog Powell to keep playing. He's a young player. Mike Freeman has been through it a little more and coming off the bench and being able to help fits his set-up a little more."

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.