BROCK AND SALK

Mariners Bullpen Update: Muñoz status, prospect Berroa now a reliever

May 11, 2023, 11:31 AM

Seattle Mariners Prelander Berroa...

Prelander Berroa of the Seattle Mariners warms up before pitching vs the Padres on Feb. 24, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners’ pitching staff has been arguably the best in baseball to start the 2023 season, and once again the M’s are getting major contributions from the bullpen.

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What makes Seattle’s pitching dominance especially impressive is that the team’s top reliever hasn’t pitched in more than a month.

During this week’s Jerry Dipoto Show on Seattle Sports, the Seattle Mariners’ president of baseball operations shared an injury update on Andrés Muñoz as well as why a top pitching prospect is now working out of the bullpen.

When Muñoz is expected back with Seattle Mariners

When Muñoz was placed on the injured list in early April, it was thought he would be back in roughly two weeks from his right deltoid strain. But due to a few setbacks, the hard-throwing right-hander is now slated to return next month, Dipoto said.

“Muni had a PRP injection last Friday,” Dipoto said. “If you’ll recall, we spoke (last) Thursday and we thought we would have more information and he was set to begin a rehab assignment the next day. He had a little bit of a setback and that resulted in a PRP injection that we think has solved the problem.”

Muñoz’s shoulder has no structural damage, Dipoto said, and when he starts his rehab assignment will be dependent on how he looks in bullpen sessions once he progresses to that point.

“We do hope to have him back in the next couple of weeks. If that is around the first of June or the first week of June, that would be about the best we could hope for,” Dipoto said. “And with these things, you never know. There could be another setback. We thought this was going to be a two-week thing at the start, so it’s tough to predict. But we do expect Muni back at full force at some point in the near future. I just can’t give you a reasonable time other than to bucket it up as the first of June or thereabouts.”

Prelander Berroa now a reliever

There were a number of standouts during spring training for the Mariners, one of which was Prelander Berroa, a hard-throwing right-hander who really impressed between High-A and Double-A last year after being acquired from the San Francisco Giants in an early-season trade. Berroa entered 2023 as the M’s 14th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Berroa was a starter last year and to begin this season, but he worked out of the bullpen Wednesday for Double-A Arkansas for the very first time and pitched a scoreless inning while touching 99 mph.

“We always saw Prelander as a bullpen guy,” Dipoto said. “He was so impressive in terms of the physical stuff, what he has – three pitches, and three pitches suggest starter – but we thought Prelander’s focus would greatly improve if we just shortened him up a little bit.”

It’s not the first time the Mariners have shifted a hard-throwing starter to the bullpen in the minors.

“It’s very similar to what we did years back with Edwin Díaz, it’s a very similar transition to what we made with Matt Brash last year,” Dipoto said. “And that’s what we presented to Berroa, and he listened to the presentation and he said, ‘Cool, I’m good to go.’ And I think he sees himself as a reliever. It’s a huge arm, it’s a devastating slider, he throws up to 100 mph, and our impression was we were probably going to spin our wheels with him as a starter because the command would just get in the way over a five-, six- or seven-inning outing. But asking him to go get three or six outs with that kind of stuff and just focus on the big strike zone rather than trying to be to fine with multiple different pitches could really accelerate his growth.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs live at 8:30 a.m. each Thursday during Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk. Listen to this week’s edition in the podcast below.

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