The Mariners made anticipated three roster moves on Thursday’s open date: They returned Nick Franklin to Triple-A Tacoma, optioned struggling starter Erasmo Ramirez to Hi-A High Desert and selected the contract of outfielder Cole Gillespie from the Rainiers.
The Mariners’ current active roster is 24, which means another move is coming prior to Friday’s series opener against Texas at Safeco Field. The club’s 40-man roster is full after adding Gillespie.
Ramirez was sent to High Desert in order to start Sunday on his regular day. That Sunday slot at Tacoma will be filled by Hisashi Iwakuma in a rehab start. If all goes well, Iwakuma is expected to rejoin the Mariners for a May 2 start at Texas.
Plans call for Ramirez to be transferred to Tacoma for a May 2 start against Las Vegas, which would keep him in line for a recall to start in a May 7 double-header at Oakland.
The decision not to fill the 25th spot immediately points to a likely move to recall lefty reliever Lucas Luetge, who appeared in two big-league games prior to his April 15 return to Tacoma.
Players optioned to the minors can’t be recalled for 10 days unless they replace a player placed on the disabled list. Luetge will be eligible Friday for a recall.
Gillespie, 29, was batting .362 with five home runs and 14 RBI in 16 games with the Rainiers. The Portland, Oregon, native has appeared in 78 career Major League games with the Diamondbacks (2010-2011), Giants (2013) and Cubs (2013). He was originally selected by the Brewers in the 3rd round of the 2006 June draft out of Oregon State. He was the 2006 Pac-10 Player of the Year leading the Beavers to the College World Series title.
Franklin, 23, appeared in seven games for the Mariners after being recalled from Tacoma on April 16. He went 2-for-16 (.125) with a triple. He made four starts at four different positions (2B, 3B, DH, RF).
Ramirez, 23, is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA (18 ER, 24.0 IP) in five starts this season. After earning the win in the Mariners second game of the season vs. the Angels, Ramirez is 0-3 with a 8.47 ERA (16 ER, 17.0 IP) over his last four starts.