Leone gets the Call

FRESNO, Calif. - For nearly 10 minutes prior to Friday night's game, Tacoma Rainiers manager Dan Rohn motioned up towards the Grizzlies Stadium press box trying to relay a message. Once the phone call was made down to the dugout, Rohn gave the news that Justin Leone had been called up to Seattle.

Justin Leone, a free-swinger who struggled with strikeouts and errant throws from third base in his six weeks with Seattle last season, was understandably excited after getting the news from Rohn just 20 minutes before the start of Tacoma's game.

"He said, ‘Are you healthy?" Leone said, packing his gear at his locker prior to the game. "I thought I was getting traded or something. Then he said, ‘You're going to the big leagues.' That was it.

"With it being the second day of the season, I'm definitely surprised."

Unsure of what the move means as far as the Mariners roster is concerned, Leone is trying to stay cautiously optimistic about his second go-around in the big leagues. He isn't sure how long-term this trip to Seattle will be, but he kept his humor despite the uncertainty.

"…unless they are sending Beltre down," the third baseman jokingly pondered.

Leone batted .216 in 102 at bats with the Mariners late last season, but ended the year on the disabled list when pitcher Matt Kinney, then with the Kansas City Royals, hit him on the left hand with a pitch that broke two fingers..

Given another opportunity to play in Seattle, the 28-year-old says he'll try to approach it differently than he did in his first big league stint last season.

"I did too much thinking," he said. "I wasn't very focused. I was kind of looking ahead instead of just playing where I was at.

"I'm going to try and get comfortable there. Not to the point of being complacent, but to the point where you aren't thinking, ‘I'm in the big leagues."

Hunter Brown, who was pegged as the Rainiers' utility infielder as recently as yesterday, will take over third base duties for Tacoma. Brown was scheduled to be the team's designated hitter on Friday, but slid over to the hot corner when the news came that Leone had been called up.

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