is headed to Triple-A after a tough start to 2014. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Following their 9-8 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday, the Seattle Mariners announced that they were demoting centerfielder Abraham Almonte to triple-A Tacoma, and in his place, the team has promoted outfielder James Jones to the Major League roster.
After a solid Major League debut that saw him hit .264/.313/.403 over 82 plate appearances in 2013, the Mariners installed the 24-year-old Almonte as the team's leadoff hitter and starter in center on Opening Day, but things have not gone well. In 27 games and over 113 plate appearances, Almonte has an on-base percentage of just .248 with zero in the way of power (one homer, .292 slugging percentage) and 40 walks to just six strikeouts. Despite Almonte's quality defense and speed, the Mariners have decided that was no longer acceptable.
In his stead, Seattle will likely turn to Michael Saunders in centerfield moving forward (he has started there in four straight games), but the Mariners also have the ability to give Jones a chance at the job. The 25-year-old Jones has a quality plate approach, drawing walks at a 10-percent clip in the minor leagues, and that could be a useful tool if he is thrust into the lineup on a regular basis.
Though Almonte has lost his job for now, his demotion may only be temporary, according to Greg Johns of MLB.com:
"I just have to keep working and get my feeling back at the plate and I think everything will be OK," Almonte said after learning of his demotion from [Mariners manager Lloyd] McClendon. "He told me to go get it going and you'll be back soon."
With just 122 runs scored in 29 games of action, the Mariners are in desperate need of offense, lending some credence to Almonte's possibility of return, but unless he hits at the Minor League level, the Mariners will be forced to seek other long-term options.