Bantz promoted to provide backup at catcher

Bantz promoted to provide backup at catcher

SEATTLE -- Brandon Bantz, a 26-year-old catcher with 37 games of Triple-A experience over the past two years, was selected by the Mariners from Tacoma on Wednesday to provide depth behind the plate after Jesus Sucre injured his hand in Tuesday's 7-4 victory over the White Sox.

Infielder Carlos Triunfel was optioned to Tacoma to make room on the 25-man Major League roster, while veteran outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL to create a spot for Bantz on the 40-man roster.

Bantz will serve as a backup to veteran Kelly Shoppach until Sucre is ready to return, manager Eric Wedge said.

Bantz was called up before top catching prospect Mike Zunino because the club doesn't want to rush last year's first-round Draft pick out of Florida for a short-term solution.

"It's a temporary move," Wedge said of Bantz's situation. "And good for him. He's a big leaguer. I saw him a few times in Spring Training. We called him up a few times [to Major League camp]. We don't want to disrupt anybody else down there right now."

Bantz hit .229 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 34 games for Tacoma last year. He opened this season with Double-A Jackson and hit .178 with a home run and four RBIs in 14 games before getting moved to Tacoma last week. He played three games with the Rainiers, hitting .300 with a home run and one RBI in 10 at-bats.

"It's been a pretty whirlwind of a last 12 hours or so," Bantz said before Wednesday's game. "I got the call about 11:30 last night that there was a possibility I could be coming up here. It was an unreal, surreal experience. It still feels pretty surreal at the moment. I'm just really excited. This has been a life-long dream. I'm just happy to be here and hoping to contribute any way I can."

Gutierrez, 30, has been battling a hamstring issue the past five weeks. His 60-day DL stint is retroactive to April 23, so he'll be eligible to return on June 22.

Bantz, a 30th-round Draft pick in 2009 out of Dallas Baptist University, will be in uniform and available for Wednesday's series finale with the White Sox. He's regarded as a strong defender and has thrown out 14 of 23 attempted basestealers this season.

"Luckily, I was in Tacoma all last year, so I know a lot of these guys already," he said. "There are a couple starters that I'm not that familiar with, but I'll work hard to get to know them and what they like to do, so we can get on the same page. But it's good. You're in the locker room and you get used to that environment in the Minor Leagues, where people are always in and out, so you're always having to introduce yourself and get to know new people. It's kind of the same in that aspect, but it's different obviously being at this level."

Triunfel had played in five games since being called up on May 24 and was 0-for-13 with just three starts in that span.

"Obviously, I didn't play him a great deal," Wedge said. "A lot of that has to do with Nick Franklin. He's off to a good start. We need to see him more. I don't think it's a bad thing to have him go down there and play every day for a while. But he'll be back up here."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.