Mariners notebook: Roster moves coming, including expected Gamel-Heredia switch
The Mariners are expected to make a number of roster moves prior to their series opener against the Astros Monday night, including one that Mariners fans on social media (and hosts from 710 ESPN Seattle) have been calling for.
Following the Mariners’ 12-1 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, ESPN’s Marley Rivera tweeted this:
Guillermo Heredia is packing his bags, he‘s been sent down by the Mariners. He told me that Scott Servais told him it's because they're going to face a few right-handed pitchers in a row. https://t.co/T6lyCJk3ho
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) August 20, 2018
The corresponding move for Guillermo Heredia heading to Triple-A Tacoma is expected to be Ben Gamel, who has hit .369 with 11 extra-base hits in 16 games with the Rainiers. In addition to adding a left-handed bat to the roster, the move would limit Gamel’s stay in Triple-A to 20 days, the maximum time a player can spend in the minors without having a minor league option used up.
At least one other move will need to be made as Jean Segura will return from the paternity list. With catcher Chris Herrmann leaving Sunday’s game with a bruised knee, the Mariners may also need to bring up another backstop.
We could also see a move made with the bullpen as Roenis Elias, Chasen Bradford and Matt Festa all threw multiple innings Sunday. There are limited options on the 40-man roster for relief help as Casey Lawrence, Nick Rumbelow and Christian Bergman have not been down the required 10 days since being optioned. Ryan Cook, Rob Whalen and Max Povse are the only other healthy pitchers currently on the 40-man roster.
Paxton plays catch
A very welcome sight hours before the game Sunday as James Paxton played catch with a trainer for the first time since suffering a severe bruise on his left forearm Tuesday in Oakland.
“It felt good,” Paxton said of the throwing session. “No problems, there’s no stiffness or anything. Just a little achy maybe. I think just getting the rest of the swelling out of there will help a lot. I think once we get the swelling out of there I will be ready to go.”
Paxton played catch out to 70 feet at what he estimated to be about 50 percent effort level. If all feels right the day after, he expects to throw again on Monday.
“We will back it up the next couple of days then get back on the mound and start spinning some stuff and get back at it.”
Plan for Pazos
Left-handed reliever James Pazos was optioned to Tacoma on Sunday morning, and while there was a need for roster spots for pitchers and he had options, that was not the primary reason he was one of the players to go.
“Over the last six weeks he hasn’t been as consistent with his fastball,” manager Scott Servais explained. “That’s his trick. That’s what he’s got, a riding fastball that really plays well up in the zone. The consistency of getting it there, executing it, being able to go multiple innings really hasn’t been there for him.”
Pazos relies heavily on the fastball, throwing it over 85 percent of the time when he is on his game. He used it over 90 percent in June and August when his struggles with the pitch almost completely prevented him from going to his breaking ball. In addition to the location problems, he has seen a drop in velocity, which the Mariners believe is due to mechanics and not fatigue considering he was given extra rest in the weeks leading up to the All-Star break.
“This is an opportunity for James to go down, we have put a very very detailed program together for him until Sept. 1, which is probably more geared toward mechanical bullpen-type stuff than it is actually in the game to take the competition away,” said Servais. “It’s about getting him right mechanically. We really need him. We need him to be a big part of our bullpen, right now he’s just not. Take a step back, regroup and get back.”
Something new for Felix
Perhaps the bullpen wasn’t so bad for Félix Hernández. While the injury to Paxton put Félix right back into the starter role, he has continued to go out to the bullpen during games.
“It’s a different view of the game,” he told me Sunday afternoon after coming back into the clubhouse with the relievers following the Mariners’ loss.
While there is probably more to be learned from the different daily work routine he had as a reliever, perhaps he gets something from the new view and conversations he has out in the pen. It has been interesting to watch.