Notes: Olivo sent to Tacoma

Notes: Olivo sent to Tacoma

SEATTLE -- Touted as a potential All-Star when acquired from the White Sox nearly one year ago, catcher Miguel Olivo was sent to Triple-A Tacoma on Monday, the victim of a .145 batting average that has affected his defense.

"It's a move made to get Miguel back to even, at the very least," manager Mike Hargrove said. "We felt like we couldn't give him the at-bats on a consistent basis at this level that he needs to get his game in order. This gives him a chance to do that. He wasn't happy, but he understood."

Olivo already had packed his bags and departed Safeco Field when the move was announced. He exited with 16 hits in 110 at-bats, two home runs and 14 RBIs.

"We have, in no way, given up on Miguel," general manager Bill Bavasi said. "We need Miguel developing to his full potential."

The Mariners recalled 21-year-old catcher Rene Rivera from Double-A San Antonio and he joined the team in time for Monday night's series opener against the Blue Jays. Hargrove said Rivera would start Tuesday night's game against Toronto.

Sending Olivo to the Minors means 42-year-old Pat Borders becomes the main man behind the plate.

"Pat, to start off with, will catch three out of the four days, probably, maybe more, maybe less," Hargrove said. "He told me he was catching every day in Triple-A."

The Mariners re-acquired Borders from the Brewers on May 19; he joined the team the following day and has been a significant contributor since. Borders went into Monday night's game with two hits in 10 at-bats, and one of the hits was a game-deciding home run against the Devil Rays.

"Pat knows how to get the most out of his pitcher that day and understands the pace of the game," Hargrove said. "That is the No. 1 job of the catcher. Sure, you'd like to see them hit .400 with 50 home runs. But for me, a catcher who gets the best out of his pitcher that night has done his job. And Pat does that."

The search for additional catching help continues with Major League veterans Benito Santiago and Greg Myers being mentioned as potential candidates.

Wiki Gonzalez, who replaced the injured Dan Wilson last month and then suffered a hamstring injury, remains on the disabled list and undergoing a rehab program at Safeco Field.

"I have no idea when I will come back," he said Monday. "I have been doing really well and I feel good, but I don't know. No one has told me anything. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I know I can't play right now."

All of Olivo's playing time for now will be in the Minor Leagues.

"He's hit an extended tough streak and it will take more than part-time action behind, and at, the plate to help him get back on his development track," Hargrove said.

Exactly when Olivo reports to the Rainiers was unclear. The Mariners' top farm team ended a series in Fresno on Monday night and opens a three-game series in Sacramento on Tuesday night. The Pacific Coast League team also has a three-game series in Portland before returning home.

This is Rivera's second stint with the Mariners this season. He spent five days with Seattle (May 15-20) before returning to the Missions, where he batted .292 (35-for-120) with two home runs and 11 RBIs.

"He's a good receiver and throws the ball well," Hargrove said. "The only question about his game always has been about his offense."

If you are wondering why Rainiers catcher Ryan Christianson wasn't promoted instead of Rivera, Christianson isn't on the organization's 40-man roster. Seattle would have to remove someone from the 40-man to find a spot for Christianson.

A chance for Bloomquist: All-purpose backup Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop Monday night, his fifth consecutive start at that position.

"It's nice being in the lineup, but it isn't something I get too caught up with," he said. "I take it for what it's worth -- each day it's an opportunity to do something to help us win a game. I try not to look at things in the long run, get ahead of myself and start thinking this is going to be the position I'm at forever."

He is taking the correct approach because Hargrove said Bloomquist is too valuable as the utility player.

"I think Willie is a good Major League player and is getting a chance to play every day for a while," Hargrove said. "We'll see where it goes.

"I stop short of saying this is his shot of becoming an everyday player. It may turn into that, but right now, not what it is.

"In the long term, Willie's value to this team is as a utility player. And that is a good value."

When asked if the recent work was making him tired, Bloomquist quipped, "No, I have three years of fresh legs saved up, so I should be fine."

Three Ichiros in one: Major League Baseball's all-time single-season hits leader has been immortalized in lacquered wood with the limited-edition Ichiro Suzuki nesting doll, which will be presented to the first 15,000 fans attending Friday night's series opener against the Devil Rays. Fans will receive the highly collectible egg-shaped three-in-one dolls, courtesy of Union 76. 

The handcrafted wooden dolls feature the full-color likeness of the Mariners right fielder in three different uniforms. The smallest Ichiro is about 2 1/2 inches tall and features the dark navy alternate jersey.  The middle-sized nesting doll is about 3 1/2 inches tall and features the gray road uniform. The largest nesting doll is just over 4 1/2 inches tall and features Ichiro in his home white uniform. 

Nesting dolls continue to be a hot sports collectible.  Seattle Magazine this month proclaimed the bobblehead "out" and the Ichiro nesting doll "in." The nesting dolls, also known as Babooshkahs, are distributed by Woodinville-based Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, one of the nation's premier sports marketing agencies.

Each doll distributed comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity stating that it has been individually produced through a unique handcrafted process that "captures the essence and personality of each character, bringing the dolls to life."

Up next: The three-game series continues Tuesday night with right-hander Ryan Franklin attempting to win his second game this month. Franklin has surrendered three or fewer runs in three of his five starts in May but has just a victory over the Red Sox to show for it.

Jim Street is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.