SHANNON DRAYER

Gregory Santos takes big step toward Mariners debut

Jun 22, 2024, 2:35 PM | Updated: Jun 23, 2024, 9:35 am

Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos...

Seattle Mariners reliever Gregory Santos pitches for the White Sox during a 2023 game. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

MIAMI – It was a sight for bullpen-weary eyes when Gregory Santos took the hill at Loan Depot Park before the Seattle Mariners took on the Miami Marlins in the second game of a three-game series.

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After weeks of throwing bullpens both home and away as he works toward return from a right-lat strain that has kept him from making his Mariners debut, Santos threw to hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday, one of the last hurdles to be crossed before being sent on a rehab assignment.

Santos faced Ryan Bliss and Tyler Locklear in an inning of work. He focused on the movement and velocity of his sinker/slider combo. and from the eye and reaction of the hitters, it was easy to see his ball was moving. As for the velocity, his fastball topped out at 99 mph.

“Everything felt great, no discomfort. I was just attacking the zone,” Santos told reporters through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “Everything felt good.”

Santos shifted his rehab work from the spring training facility in Peoria to Seattle a month ago with the club believing he would progress better when surrounded by teammates. Whether or not that has made a difference in his timeline is tough to know, but it is not hard to see that the 24 year old’s spirits have been buoyed since rejoining his new team and participating in what he can with his fellow relievers. The experience has made him hungry for eventually pitching in games that count.

“I don’t even think I can describe it in words,” he said. “I think I am ready to be a part of this team being able to do what I can to help this team.”

First thing is first, however. While he has thrown bullpens at 100%, the adrenaline that comes with throwing to hitters from a big-league mound with a good crowd around him no doubt upped the intensity. How he feels Sunday will be the final tell of the success of the session. If all goes well, he believes he will throw another bullpen in Tampa, another live BP and then be sent out on a rehab assignment. He is still likely weeks from a return, but a big step was taken Saturday in Miami.

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