Newcomers fill utility roles for M's, Red Sox (Jul 26, 2017)

BY AP • July 26, 2017

SEATTLE -- Danny Espinosa was ready to enjoy his first weekend off since February, about to take his wife, Sara, and 10-month-old son, Ty, to Disneyland.

Then work called.

The 30-year-old infielder, who was released last week by the Los Angeles Angels, got word Saturday that the Seattle Mariners were going to sign him.

"We still went," Espinosa said of his weekend plans, "and turned it into a celebration."

Espinosa made his debut for the Mariners as a pinch runner Tuesday night and stayed in to play first base against the Boston Red Sox. Seattle won 6-5 in 13 innings.

During the game, the Red Sox picked up a utility man, too, acquiring Eduardo Nunez from the San Francisco Giants.

Seattle manager Scott Servais said there is a chance Espinosa will be in the lineup Wednesday afternoon when the Mariners look to sweep a three-game series against the Red Sox and left-hander Chris Sale (12-4, 2.48 ERA).

Espinosa had career highs in home runs (24) and RBIs (72) last season while playing shortstop for the Washington Nationals.

An offseason trade sent Espinosa, who grew up in Santa Ana, Calif., just a few miles from Angel Stadium, back to his hometown team.

However, he struggled with the Angels, batting .162 with six home runs and 29 RBIs in 77 games before being released.

"A lot didn't work there," said Espinosa, who was platooned at second base for the first time in his career.

With the Mariners, Espinosa will fill what he called a "designated off-the-bench whatever" role.

"I just want to come in and do the job wherever they need me to do it and help in the push for the playoffs," Espinosa said. "I know my role is going to be give guys a day off and come in late (in games)."

Servais said Espinosa could see time at any of the infield positions. The eight-year veteran also has played five games in his career in left field.

"He hasn't been having a good year, but sometimes a change of scenery and different (coaches') eyes can help," Servais said.

Servais is known for giving players a heads-up in advance when and where they are going to start.

"That's huge," Espinosa said. "If you know you're going to play, you can get ready mentally, zoning in on the guys you're going to face."

Even with preparation, facing Sale, who leads the American League in wins, ERA and strikeouts (200) is no easy task. The AL's All-Star Game starter is having perhaps his best stretch of the season, not allowing a run in either of his past two starts and three of his past four.

In nine career appearances against the Mariners, including seven starts, Sale is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA. He has three complete games against Seattle, the most against any opponent.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked what he has learned about Sale in the half-season he has spent with him since the ace was acquired in an offseason trade with the Chicago White Sox.

"The competitor that he is," Farrell said. "He's going to compete whether it's a team function or he's playing ping-pong. ... He's been a model of consistency in every aspect."

The Mariners are set to start rookie right-hander Andrew Moore, who will face the Red Sox for the first time.

In his last start, against the New York Yankees and CC Sabathia on Friday, Moore took the loss, allowing five runs on nine hits in six innings of a 5-1 defeat.

Moore (1-2, 5.70 ERA) said he tries to not worry about who he is facing, but he admitted with Sale on the mound, it will be difficult to ignore.

"Given his track record ... it'll be a fun challenge. I'm looking forward to it," Moore said. "You can't put added pressure on yourself by looking at the scoreboard or anything like that. You just have to try to stick with the game plan."

Moore might need to figure out a plan to stop Nunez. The 30-year-old veteran was acquired from the Giants in exchange for minor league pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.

Nunez was serving as the Giants' regular third baseman, and he hit .308 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 76 games for San Francisco this year. For Boston, he could share time at third with newly promoted Rafael Devers, but he also could see action at shortstop, second base and the outfield corners.

Devers, 20, went 0-for-4 with two walks in his major league debut Tuesday.

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