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Mariners demote Jarred Kelenic to minors after poor start

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Seattle Mariners' Jarred Kelenic celebrates with relief pitcher Anthony Misiewicz and other teammates in the dugout after hitting two-run home run during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, May 6, 2022, in Seattle.

NEW YORK — Rather than make his Citi Field debut against the team that traded him, Jarred Kelenic was demoted to Triple-A Tacoma by the Seattle Mariners on Friday after the team arrived in New York for a weekend series against the Mets.

The 22-year-old outfielder was hitting .140 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 30 games.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said Kelenic was not happy.

“You don’t expect players to be happy when things like that don’t go their way,” Servais said. ”He’s off to a rough start, but I would say very mature. Understands where he’s at. He knows it’s critical for him to be a big part of our offense for us to do well, how we’re built out. And he wants to get it going right as quick as he can and knows maybe he does need to step back and get an environment that’s going to allow him to do that.”

Off to a 14-18 start, the Mariners made eight roster moves. Right-handed reliever Sergio Romo was activated from the 10-day injured list after recovering from right shoulder inflammation that had sidelined him since April 11, outfielder Steven Souza Jr.’s contract was selected from Tacoma, outfielder Mike Ford reported from San Francisco a day after he was reacquired and right-hander Adrian Sampson was claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.

Left-hander Danny Young and outfielder Stuart Fairchild were optioned to the Raniers, and Fairchild and right-hander Yohan Ramirez were designated for assignment.

Souza and Ford were in the starting lineup against the Mets.

Kelenic was the sixth overall pick by New York in the 2018 amateur draft and was traded to the Mariners that December in the deal that brought Edwin Díaz and Robinson Canó to the Mets. Canó was released by New York last weekend.

Kelenic made his big league debut May 13 last year after playing six games at Triple-A and was demoted in early June following an 0-for-39 slide that left his batting average at .096. Recalled following the All-Star break, Kelenic finished with a .181 average, 14 homers and 43 RBIs.

His high point this year was a pinch, two-run homer against Tampa Bay’s Ryan Thompson on May 6 that gave the Mariners a 6-5 lead in an 8-7 loss. Kelenic pinch hit in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 4-2 loss at Philadelphia and struck out against Corey Knebel without swinging at any of the four pitches he faced.

“I don’t think swing-wise, there’s a ton of adjustments,” Servais said. “He needs to relax and try to play and go and have fun again. Baseball is a fun game when you’re doing well and playing up to your capabilities. It’s unbelievably frustrating when you know you’re capable of more and it’s not happening for you.”

Souza gets a $1 million salary while in the major leagues, up from $192,000 while in the minors. The 33-year-old was hitting .267 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 22 games at Tacoma.

Servais said catcher Tom Murphy’s shoulder is better, but his neck is bothering him. Murphy hit in the batting cage and could be activated near the end of the current 10-day trip.

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