SEATTLE (AP) — The priority for general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon was to add a pair of right-handed hitters and a starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners this offseason.
Seattle gained the second right-handed bat it sought on Wednesday, acquiring Justin Ruggiano from the Chicago Cubs for minor league pitcher Matt Brazis.
While the acquisition of Ruggiano is not close to the same scale of the signing of slugger Nelson Cruz this month, it fulfills Seattle’s the need to find a right fielder that has strong career numbers against left-handed pitching.
“This is an addition we had talked about for a while,” Zduriencik said.
Ruggiano appeared in 81 games last season for the Cubs, hitting .281 with six homers and 28 RBIs but was slowed by two stints on the disabled list, including season-ending ankle surgery to remove bone spurs. Ruggiano said he finished his rehabilitation on his ankle about three weeks ago.
He’s shown glimpses of power and hitting for average during two seasons in Miami. In 2012, Ruggiano batted .313 with 13 homers, a year after hitting a career-best 18 home runs in 128 games.
Ruggiano also provides flexibility in the outfield; he’s played all three positions. He was a little surprised by the trade.
“I want to be a part of that lineup every day,” Ruggiano said. “But I’m here to fill whatever role they want me to fill and help Seattle win some games.”
Ruggiano’s career splits make him almost a certainty to be in Seattle’s lineup whenever a lefty is on the mound. For his career, Ruggiano has a .266 batting average, .508 slugging percentage and .836 on-base plus slugging against left-handed pitching.
“We saw this as a guy who certainly could hit left-handed pitching, he has done that in his career,” Zduriencik said.
Seattle designated for assignment pitcher Logan Bawcom to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Ruggiano.
Brazis, 25, was 4-1 and a 2.36 ERA in 40 relief appearances last season with Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson.