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Outlook: Grandal impressed as a rookie in 2012

As the Padres and Mariners play their second game in Seattle on Tuesday before heading back to Petco Park for two more contests, San Diego should be getting a boost.

Former first-round Draft pick Yasmani Grandal will rejoin the Padres to propel a catching core that ranks 22nd in baseball with a .637 OPS.

Grandal, who was acquired from the Reds as part of the Mat Latos deal in the 2011 offseason, hit .297 with an .863 OPS in 192 at-bats with the Padres last season after making his Major League debut in June. He hit eight homers in 60 games, which put him on pace for about 22 home runs.

But Grandal was forced to miss the first 50 games this season after it was announced in November that he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.

The 24-year-old was rated the No. 68 overall prospect in 2012 according to MLB.com after surging through the Minors, where he has a career .310 average and .408 on-base percentage.

"We've been talking about that for a while," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But there's a high probability of him [returning]."

The Padres will send catcher John Baker to Triple-A Tucson to clear space on the 25-man roster for Grandal.

Starting for the Padres on Tuesday is Edinson Volquez, who was also part of the Latos deal. Volquez has struggled to find the strike zone at times this season, walking 25 batters in 54 2/3 innings while posting a 5.76 ERA.

In Brandon Maurer's 10th Major League start, the Mariners are hoping to see some composure.

"To get to that point here during the regular season is what we're looking to do," manager Eric Wedge said. "Because it's in there. It's going to happen."

The 22-year-old right-hander has a 6.80 ERA through 43 2/3 innings this season, having allowed eight home runs. Drafted out of high school, Maurer progressed steadily through the Minors, but he has been challenged at the highest level.

"Under control with every bit of himself," Wedge said on what he is hoping to see out of Maurer. "Keep his mind ahead of his body and just go out there and execute pitches. Let the results take care of themselves.

"You can't throw one pitch and get three outs. You can't make up for what just happened. Just go out there and stay under control."

Padres: Blanks providing lineup depth
Kyle Blanks, who has two homers in his last nine games, has provided consistency to the middle of the order since joining the team from Triple-A Tuscon on April 14. He's also played all over the diamond, from left field to right field to first base.

And while he's yet to show the consistent power he displayed in the Minors, the 26-year-old has been particularly useful against left-handed pitchers.

"Kyle is doing good," Black said. "He's getting his lefties, and we're picking spots for Kyle."

Mariners: Ackley replaced by prospect
The Mariners could also be getting help from a prospect, as they continued to retool their roster with young players who have been successful in the Minors this season.

Following up the demotion of Jesus Montero, the Mariners sent second baseman Dustin Ackley, the No. 2 overall Draft pick in 2009, to Triple-A Tacoma and called up 22-year-old infielder Nick Franklin, the No. 4 prospect in the organization. Franklin was hitting .325 in the Minors, while Ackley was hitting .205 with the Mariners.

"It was just time," Wedge said. "Obviously, we've fought for [Ackley] for quite a period of time now. We wanted to make it work up here and not do that, but ultimately we didn't feel like we could take it any further."

Franklin walked in his first Major League plate appearance during Monday's 9-0 win over San Diego.

"Going from last year to this year was the big difference, just seeing pitches, seeing the good ones and hitting the good ones," Franklin said. "Not trying to hit every single ball. Just trying to get your pitch and square it up as best you can."

Worth noting
• Raul Ibanez hit seven homers and drove in 17 runs over his last 12 games. He's batting .321 (18-for-56) during his last 16 games.

• Padres reliever Anthony Bass allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning in Monday's loss, and he has allowed eight runs over his last four innings.

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