SEATTLE -- In their search for a replacement for James Paxton, the Mariners have found another Canadian lefty who happens to be a longtime pal of the Big Maple. Perhaps Andrew Albers will become "Little Maple" if he pitches well and the 31-year-old will get his first chance when he
SEATTLE -- In their search for a replacement for James Paxton, the Mariners have found another Canadian lefty who happens to be a longtime pal of the Big Maple. Perhaps Andrew Albers will become "Little Maple" if he pitches well and the 31-year-old will get his first chance when he starts Tuesday against the Orioles at Safeco Field.
The Mariners acquired Albers in a cash transaction with the Braves last week shortly after learning Paxton was headed to the disabled list for 3-4 weeks with a strained left pectoral muscle.
The native of North Battleford, Saskatchewan, was initially assigned to Triple-A Tacoma, but he hasn't pitched yet for the Rainiers and will be added to Seattle's Major League roster on Tuesday in time to face former Mariner Wade Miley in the 7:10 p.m. PT game.
"A few days ago I was over on the East Coast and now I find myself here in the thick of a pennant race and getting an opportunity to start tomorrow," Albers said Monday after arriving at Safeco Field for the first time. "So I'm really excited and looking forward to it."
Albers is a lefty with an unorthodox delivery who has 17 games of MLB experience, including 12 starts, with a 2-5 record and 4.41 ERA between the Twins and Blue Jays. He also spent 2014 pitching in Korea and hasn't been in the big leagues since six games with Minnesota in 2016.
But he was outstanding at Triple-A Gwinnett this season, going 12-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 games (17 starts) and the Mariners are hopeful he can mirror a similar pickup they made last year when adding veteran Wade LeBlanc in a midseason trade with Toronto.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on him," manager Scott Servais said. "Wade LeBlanc was really good. But just come in, do his thing, hopefully keeps us in games and give us a chance.
"He's got good command of his fastball, cutter, slider and a change on top of that. He does all the little things you have to do to keep pitching at the age he's doing it and get a chance to get back in the big leagues. I'm excited for him."
Paxton is excited, too, at the chance to be reunited with his former University of Kentucky teammate.
"When I went for my visit, he was the player that showed me around," Paxton said. "He's a great guy, one of those A-plus character guys. Just really competes, plays hard and he's good at what he does. He'll be a great addition to our team here and I think he'll be able to provide some leadership to the pitchers also. He's just that kind of guy."
Albers understands the irony of now trying to fill the shoes, at least temporarily, of the young freshman from Canada he once toured around campus.
"I've taken a little different route to get here than he has," Albers said. "He's a couple years younger than me, but I knew him way back when he was just a little guy. It's fun to see the progress he's made and to follow his career.
"He's obviously been outstanding. He's certainly a guy I can go to for advice on what to do up here. Now the roles are kind of reversed from college, so it's kind of neat to come full circle like that."
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.