Luke French knew what he wanted in life by the time he was in fifth grade – when he wrote out a timeline that had him pitching for the Seattle Mariners.
“They were my favorite team, they had Griffey and Randy Johnson and Jay Buhner,” French said today. “When the Tigers told me I’d been traded to Seattle, my first thought was ‘awesome!’”
French, 23, was acquired in Friday’s Jarrod Washburn trade, and he was added to the Mariners 25-man roster at the expense of first baseman Chris Shelton, who was designated for assignment.
“I was a little surprised, but not much,” Shelton said. “Adrian Beltre is coming back in a few days, and I thought I might go then. I’ll go home to Salt Lake City and wait. If another team picks me up, great. If not, I’ll probably go back to Tacoma and finish the season.”
French, a left-hander who will slide into the rotation on Wednesday in Kansas City, said he’s already feeling at home with the Mariners – and thrilled to share a clubhouse with Ken Griffey Jr.
Junior, of course, had to have a little fun with a teammate who was in fifth grade in 1995. And he did.
“Mike Sweeney and I were talking when French walked up and stood there near us,” Griffey said. “We knew he wanted to introduce himself, so when we were done talking, both of us turned and started to walk away.
“Luke had his hand out and he just stared. Then I turned around and said, ‘I’m just bleeping with you.’”
French got a man-hug from one of his idols, then threw a bullpen session.
A fastball-changeup pitcher who relies upon control, French has been throwing a slider for a little more than a full season, and it’s become an effective pitch for him.
“John Matlack taught it to me in the Detroit system, and I played with it, trying to find a grip that works,” French said. “I found one I like, and I use the pitch a lot.”
As for Shelton, the 29-year-old got into nine games with Seattle, batting .231 in 26 at-bats.
“I gave them the best I could in the chances I got,” Shelton said. “Those were pretty far and few between, but I tried to be ready whenever they needed me.”