Mariners' Triunfel Waits For His Chance

SEATTLE—Baseball history is full of special September stories: Players getting called up for their first look, clicking and never looking back as they headed off to great careers.

It's not going to be like that for Carlos Triunfel. Things haven't ever been easy for the 22-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, so why should his first promotion to the big leagues be any different?

A September callup from Triple-A Tacoma, he spent his first two weeks mostly warming the bench. On Sept. 7, he got his first at-bat as a pinch-hitter and struck out in the ninth inning of a lopsided loss. On Sept. 13, he came into another blowout, got two at-bats and collected his first big league hit, a ninth-inning double.

It's not always instant karma for first-timers. "I just want to play good and build on that," Triunfel said.

That's the right attitude, because he doesn't know when his next chance will be. Manager Eric Wedge can't say how much playing time Triunfel will get. What he can say is that he likes the approach the rookie is taking.

"Whether it's in the field for a couple of innings here or there, or if it's at the plate late in a game, I like what I've seen of his approach," Wedge said. "It's good to see he's putting everything he has into it when he gets the chance."

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Triunfel's first legitimate opportunity at big league playing time will likely come next spring, now that he has a full Triple-A year (when he batted .260/.308/.391) in the infield, mostly at shortstop but also 22 games at second base.

He was supposed to be at Tacoma at least a year earlier, but Triunfel, signed at the age of 16 in 2006, lost almost all of 2009 after breaking his leg in the first week of the season. He fell down the organization depth chart after the injury, but he steadily played himself back into the organization's good graces over the course of the last two years.


• First-round pick Mike Zunino had a huge postseason in the Double-A Southern League playoffs for the Jackson Generals, hitting .379 with three homers and eight RBIs.

• Lefthander James Paxton had a standout postseason for Jackson as well, throwing 131⁄3 innings, giving up one unearned run and going 2-0. The Generals fell in the Southern League finals to Mobile.