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Scott Servais Show: Mariners’ demotion of Kelenic, Logan Gilbert’s growth, injury updates

Logan Gilbert threw five innings Sunday to earn his first MLB win. (Getty)

After splitting a four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels over the weekend, the Mariners are back in action against the Detroit Tigers for a 4:10 p.m. game Tuesday on 710 ESPN Seattle.

O’Neil: Kelenic’s struggles were the best thing for relationship with M’s

Prior to the start of his team’s upcoming series, manager Scott Servais joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy and Mariners insider Shannon Drayer for the weekly Scott Servais Show to discuss all things Mariners related. And there was certainly no shortage of topics this time around.

Let’s go through what the skipper had to say during his weekly 1 p.m. Tuesday visit on 710.

Jarred Kelenic’s demotion

The big news for the Mariners this week was the demotion of top prospect Jarred Kelenic, who was hitting under .100 and in the midst of an 0 for 39 spell when Seattle sent him to Tacoma.

M’s ‘went as far as they could’ with Kelenic before demotion

Servais shared why he and the organization felt the move was necessary for Kelenic.

“He went through some struggles as a lot of young players do when they get to the big leagues,” Servais said, “so we really thought it was best for him and best for where our club is at right now to allow him to unplug a bit from the big league level and get back to doing the great things he can do on the field in Tacoma and get the confidence going again. I’m sure he’ll be back with us at some point this season. He’s a really talented guy and I love having him around the team, but it was a struggle here for him recently and we thought the best thing for him to get his confidence back was to send him back to Tacoma.”

Mariners’ leash for Marco Gonzales

The Mariners have really battled injuries this season, but they were able to get one of their better players back from the injured list last week in staff ace Marco Gonzales, who had been sidelined with a left forearm strain.

In his first start back against the Oakland Athletics on June 1, Gonzales threw four innings of one-run ball and tallied six strikeouts while throwing 50 pitches.

Gonzales gets the ball again Tuesday against the Tigers, so what are the expectations for him this time around?

“I’d love to see him get his pitch count up to 65 or 70 pitches tonight. I thought he threw the ball just excellent his last time out,” Servais said. “… I would love to see him get through five innings.”

Logan Gilbert’s growth

While Kelenic struggled to find his footing at the MLB level, fellow top Mariners prospect Logan Gilbert has made strides on the mound of late, and he picked up his first MLB win on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Gilbert went five innings and allowed one run while striking out a career-high seven batters. That came on the heels of a very good six-inning outing in his previous start.

Gilbert getting through those five innings was a little nerve wracking for Servais, however, who had to keep a close eye on his rookie’s pitch count.

“Logan in the ballgame the other day, I thought he really was just growing and getting better as the outing went along, and also know you have to be very cautious in how hard you’re running him,” he said. “Certainly we think the world of Logan and we want to keep him healthy. I wanted him so badly to get through that fifth inning but the pitches were getting up there and I was on the edge of my seat. I wanted him to get that last out so bad and he was able to get through it.”

Injury updates for Mariners pitchers

Two of the Mariners’ best pitchers are looking to get on the mound very soon, and it looks like that will be the case.

First up is Yusei Kikuchi, who left his start Saturday night after taking a hard ground ball off his knee. It didn’t look good at first as Kikuchi had to be helped off the field, but the Mariners later announced that Kikuchi had a right knee contusion rather than something more serious.

Luckily Kikuchi isn’t expected to miss any time.

“It does look like he’s going to make the next start,” Servais said.

Servais said Kikuchi underwent some treatment to reduce the swelling in his knee and threw a bit to keep his arm fresh, so all signs are pointing to him making his next scheduled start.

“He’s in today and he’ll get his regular throwing program in,” Servais said. “But right now I’m very hopeful he’ll make his next start.”

The other pitcher Servais gave an update on is reliever Kendall Graveman.

Graveman has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball in 2021 and has yet to allow a run in 16 2/3 innings, and his 1.5 wins above replacement ranks second on the team behind only shortstop J.P. Crawford. He has not appeared in a game since May 16, though, as he’s been on COVID-19 injured list.

Servais expects to have the hard-throwing right hander back in his bullpen soon.

“Gravey’s going to do at least one rehab outing in Tacoma. So he’ll pitch an inning for them and I’m not sure if it’s scheduled for tonight or tomorrow,” Servais said. “I’m hopeful that maybe towards the end of the road trip he meets us or possibly when we get off this road trip … Sometime here in the next six or seven days he could be active on our roster. I’d love to have him back because he was obviously throwing the ball outstanding and was a big part of our bullpen, certainly the back end of our bullpen.”

Catch The Scott Servais Show every Tuesday at 1 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle.

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