Notebook: Mariners’ reliever-go-round may soon be over
MINNEAPOLIS – As expected, a bullpen move was made after the Mariners’ 20-7 loss to the Twins on Tuesday.
Casey Lawrence was up for all of two days before being sent back to Tacoma with Chase De Jong up and available for innings right away if needed. It is a sight we have seen many times this year: Long reliever up, long reliever pitches extended innings, long reliever down. Sometimes it’s after giving up runs like Lawrence did Tuesday night in Minnesota, sometimes after a stellar performance like Lawrence’s outing against the Rockies at the beginning of the month or Emilio Pagan’s on Sunday against the Blue Jays.
While the moves have proved to be necessary, the conversations to send the players down are not fun.
“It’s hard,” manager Scott Servais said. “Unfortunately it’s not really their fault. It started with the bad outing and now the long guy has to wear it and often times he’s wearing it with a plane ticket back to Triple-A. It’s not a great conversation to have. I think the guys know where we are at. I think they know what their role is when they get called up. It’s how we have kept afloat.”
The end of the reliever-go-round should be somewhat in sight with the return of Felix Hernandez to the starting rotation around the corner. At some point Servais would like to have four position players on the bench, which cannot happen when the team is carrying the extra reliever.
Shuttling pitchers between Tacoma and Seattle has not been ideal but as Servais said, it has helped keep the Mariners afloat while awaiting the return of starters on the DL.
• Jean Segura took batting practice on the field for the first time since injuring his ankle. He has hit, taken grounders, done agility drills and ran at about 60 percent the last few days. Servais has predicted a return this weekend for his shortstop, but the skipper admitted Wednesday that his estimate has been the most optimistic and that it could take a little longer. Regardless, Segura appears to be on track well before the one to two months originally thought that his high ankle sprain would keep him out.
• The 2017 draft is in the books with the Mariners selecting 40 players, 32 of which come from the college ranks. The team took 23 pitchers – eight of them lefties – five outfielders, nine infielders and three catchers. Farm director Scott Hunter said on a conference call Wednesday that he expects the top 10 picks to be signed quickly with physicals to be taken Friday in Seattle and minicamp beginning Sunday in Peoria. Go get ’em.
• Hisashi Iwkauma made his rehab start for High-A Modesto on Wednesday, throwing four innings, allowing one hit and no runs, and striking out four. He is expected to make at least one more rehab start before rejoining the team.