Zunino's ascent begins: catcher sent to Double-A

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SEATTLE — Catcher Mike Zunino played his first game for Class A Everett on July 14. On Monday, he was promoted to Class Double-A Jackson (Tenn.).

Zunino was the No. 3 overall pick in the June amateur draft, and Seattle manager Eric Wedge said the speed of the promotion did not surprise him.

“He’s a mature young man from a major college (Florida),” Wedge said. “I think he’ll make that transition without any problem.”

Zunino certainly had no problem moving college to the rookie Northwest League. In 29 games with the AquaSox, Zunino hit .373 (41-for-110) with 10 home runs, 35 runs batted in, nine doubles, a .474 on-base percentage, a .736 slugging percentage and a 1.210 OPS.

Last week, he batted .500 (14-for-28) with three home runs, three doubles and 17 RBI and was named Northwest League player of the week for the third time.

Wedge said he couldn’t compare rookie league opposition with what Zunino faced in the Southeastern Conference.

“I’m too far removed from it,” Wedge said. “I think it just depends on who you’re playing, the pitcher you’re facing. I think that has a lot to do with it. But … Double-A is an upgrade.”

Looking one rung higher in the Seattle farm system, Wedge said first baseman Justin Smoak seems to be making progress at Class Triple-A Tacoma.

“He’s just working on his swing,” Wedge said. “Obviously, he played a great first base up here for us. He’s down there working on his swing: shorten up to the baseball a little bit, be a little more consistent with his swing – and in games. We saw it a lot in (batting practice), but he was inconsistent in games. He’s moving in the right direction, (but) no timetable.”

INJURY UPDATES

As of Monday afternoon, the Mariners hadn’t seen results of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test performed on first baseman Mike Carp, who left the Sunday game at Anaheim, Calif., with what was called stiffness in his left hip.

However, Wedge said after the game that Carp likely was headed to the disabled list.

There was some generally encouraging news about outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, who has been out since June 28, when he suffered a concussion when a pickoff throw hit his head.

“(Doctors) switched up some of his meds,” Wedge said. “They think that’s going to help him. He (was restricted to exercise on Monday, then) back to baseball activity (today), and then keep progressing from there.”

REMEMBERING PESKY

Wedge began his playing career in the Boston Red Sox organization, where he developed a friendship with legendary shortstop Johnny Pesky, who died Monday at age 92.

“It’s a sad day for baseball, a sad day for the Pesky family and all of his friends and fans out there,” Wedge said. “I knew Johnny right up from the time I signed in 1989 and stayed in touch with him over the years. I learned a great deal from him, as have so many. It’s a sad day; but what a wonderful life he had: 92 years. And he did so much in his lifetime, and for so many other people, too. … He just had a lot to offer. Every day was a great day for him; very upbeat guy.”

ON TAP

The Rays and Mariners continue their three-game series at 7:10 tonight. Probable starting pitchers are left-hander Matt Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA) for Tampa Bay against right-hander Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38). The game will be televised on Root Sports.

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