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Few options if Mariners need to make pitching move

By Shannon Drayer

11 a.m. update: Shortly after this was posted, Peter Gammons reported that Casper Wells has been claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays. Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners will indeed make a move with the pitching and it will be to call up Bobby LaFramboise and send down Lucas Luetge, who has options remaining.

When I asked Eric Wedge if he had enough pen for tonight after the 16-9 loss to the Astros Tuesday I was a little surprised that he said that they would need to talk about that after the media gathering. Sure enough, as we were leaving the clubhouse, the trainer, team doctor and pitching coach Carl Willis went into Wedge’s office and closed the door.

I was surprised because Stephen Pryor, Carter Capps, Tom Wilhelmsen and most likely Oliver Perez should be available and enough pen to cover anything short of a repeat performance of last night. A move was definitely being contemplated, and it could be in the pen or rotation.

Least likely will be the rotation. When asked if Maurer would make his next start, Wedge said he would have to first see how he bounces back from getting hit on the leg by a line drive. Maurer said he was fine after the game but sometimes things can change overnight. If he is physically okay I would have to believe Wedge’s preference would be to get him out there again.

“You love his arm,” Wedge said. “Love his stuff. He deserves to be here.”

Wedge pointed out that what we saw happens to everyone at some point. Happening in a pitcher’s second big-league start no doubt is different, however. You don’t want it to become a confidence breaker. That, at this point, is as important as any mechanic or pitch.

As for the pen, Kameron Loe appears to be miscast as the long reliever. Last year with Milwaukee he pitched two innings just four times. More alarming is his home run rate. Loe’s success in the bigs has come with his sinker ball. He needs to be able to get groundouts and so far this year his groundball/flyball ratio is 10/17 with six home runs allowed. Obviously this is something that needs to change.

If the Mariners need to or decide to make a move with the pitching there is no real clear-cut answer on the 40-man roster. They won’t rush one of the Big 3 if a starter is needed. There isn’t a reliever on the 40-man who stood out in spring training or even challenged for one of the final spots. Jeremy Bonderman is not on the 40-man and I think they had more than one Triple-A start in mind for him when he was sent down near the end of spring training. Erasmo Ramirez is on the DL. Bobby LaFramboise could be a short-term option in relief but that would not require a 40-man move. Hector Noesi, anyone?

The best short-term options are not on the 40-man. Andrew Carraway has got spot starter written all over him but a roster move would be needed. Brian Sweeney, same deal, and he could be put in long relief. These would not be easy moves, however, as the Mariners would like to keep the pitchers they have on the 40-man roster and in the last week a good number of arms have been claimed off waivers.

No easy answers, but then again, a move may not have to be made. One thing we will learn today, however, is what happens with Casper Wells. If he doesn’t clear waivers he could be in Tacoma by the end of the day.

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