Mariners wearing out I-5 shuffling players back and forth from Tacoma

Because of their many injuries, the M’s have made 119 roster moves, which keeps the players on the move.

When Mike Zunino was called into the manager’s office toward the beginning of May, he knew what might be coming. At that point in the season, Zunino was hitting .167 with a .250 on-base percentage.

Like walking into the principal’s office for something you know you’ve done wrong, Zunino had an inkling Mariners manager Scott Servais and general manager Jerry Dipoto might tell him that he was heading to play for the Tacoma Rainiers, the Class AAA team in the Mariners’ organization.

And Zunino was right.

“You sort of have the idea when stuff’s not going well and you get grabbed, that something may be up,” Zunino said.

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Zunino knew the plan for what he needed to work on with his swing, but there was no timetable for how long he’d spend in Tacoma. There never really is. Zunino was with the Rainiers for 17 days, and that’s his only stint with the Class AAA team so far this year.

But some of his teammates in the Mariners’ clubhouse have been packing up their lives — sometimes living out of hotels — to move 30 miles up or down I-5 over and over again this season.

Now in his fifth year with the Mariners, Zunino doesn’t remember a season with this many roster moves, the result primarily of an injury-plagued pitching staff. Through Thursday, the Mariners have made 119 roster moves this season.

There’s always the opportunity that players from Class AAA will get called up to the big leagues. But for each one who comes up, another has to be sent down.

“A lot of times you send players down, not based on performance but based on roster moves, roster spots and availabilities,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “We’ve had to send some guys down to AA that probably their numbers didn’t warrant going down, but due to roster moves at the top, everything kind of slides down.”

Tyler Smith’s first trip to the big leagues came as a product of Jean Segura’s high-ankle sprain. Smith knew when the injury occurred that he might get a chance with the Mariners. He followed Segura’s recovery through reporters on Twitter, so he had an idea of when Segura would be able to reclaim his role. When Smith got called into the office, just as Zunino had in May, he said he “kind of figured it was coming, so it wasn’t that bad.”

Pitchers and…

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