Two hours after announcing four roster moves Thursday afternoon, the Mariners made a fifth, bringing controversial DH/1B Jesus Montero back to the club from AAA Tacoma. Montero bats right-handed, and the struggling Mariners (39-46) face three consecutive lefties Friday through Sunday, Hector Santiago (5-4, 2.40), C.J. Wilson (7-6, 3.82) and Andrew Heaney (2-0, 1.77).
“This means a lot,” Montero said after arriving in the Seattle clubhouse. “I’m going to have fun and try to win.”
To make room for Montero on the 25-man roster, the Mariners optioned J.A. Happ to High-A Bakersfield, a temporary roster move to allow him to pitch a game during the All-Star break.
The main role for Montero, who reported to spring training having dropped 40 pounds and was nearly unrecognizable, will be as a DH against left-handed pitching. He also has become a decent firat baseman and will spell starter Logan Morrison.
Once considered a wunkerkind in the Seattle organization after his acquisition from the New York Yankees in 2011, Montero largely flopped and has spent most of his career since in the minors.
The 25-year-old Montero returns to after being named a Pacific Coast League All-Star and leading the league in hits (113), runs scored (57), total bases (180) and RBIs (68). In 84 games with Tacoma, Montero hit .332 with 12 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 68 RBIs and a .899 OPS.
Montero has appeared in 170 games for the Mariners, batting .251 with 19 home runs.
He last played for Seattle in 2014, when he appeared in six games, batting .235 with one home run. In his past two games with Tacoma, Montero recorded six hits and five RBIs.
Happ, 32, is 4-5 with a 4.14 ERA (44 ER, 95.2 IP) in 17 starts this season. He recorded a no-decision Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers, allowing seven hits and four runs. Happ has a run-support average of 3.57 this season, ninth-lowest in the American League. Of his 17 starts, nine have been one-run games.
Felix Hernandez (10-5, 3.02) contests RHP Garrett Richards (9-5, 3.35) in the Angels series opener Thursday night.