It’s hard to add a lot of reinforcements during a road trip under the current COVID-19 protocols, but that didn’t stop the Mariners from making some changes to their bullpen and catching corps with a series of roster moves on Friday.
Right-handed reliever Brady Lail, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox on Monday, cleared his intake testing and was added to the active roster prior to Friday night’s series opener in Houston.
The club also recalled rookie catcher Joseph Odom from its alternate training site, a move made possible because Odom was among the four players on the traveling taxi squad that was already with the team on its current eight-game, nine-day road trip.
The Mariners also had to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Lail and did so by granting infielder Patrick Wisdom his unconditional release. Wisdom was signed as a free agent last November, but he never appeared on the active roster and has been working with the team at the alternate training site in Tacoma.
Lail, 27, has pitched in two Major League games, one a scoreless 1 1/3 innings vs. the Brewers while with the White Sox on Aug. 6 and one last season with the Yankees when he allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Orioles.
After being drafted in the 18th round by the Yankees in 2012, Lail spent eight seasons in the Yankees’ Minor League system and he was 4-2 with a 3.83 ERA and one save in 41 1/3 innings in 26 appearances over three Minor League levels last year.
“He’s more of a multi-inning reliever, a guy that can go out and throw 2-3 innings for you in a ballgame,” manager Scott Servais said. “He’s got four pitches and can work through a lineup. So that’s how he fits for us, a guy that has a little more length.”
That role becomes increasingly important with long reliever Nick Margevicius having moved into the rotation to replace the injured Kendall Graveman. Lail assumes some of those duties and could be needed as early as Saturday when Margevicius makes his second start, since the young southpaw isn’t stretched out yet and only went three innings in his rotation debut last week.
Odom replaces Hudson as the backup catcher for the second time this season. He was activated for several games on Seattle’s first road trip to fill in when starter Austin Nola injured his left knee. The 28-year-old went 0-for-4 with a walk in two games before being shifted back to the taxi squad.
Hudson has played in eight games, batting .125 (2-for-26) with two walks.
“That’s a situation where we like Hudson and Odom a lot,” Servais said. “Certainly those are defensive catchers. Joe Odom has done a great job and has history working with our young guys at the Minor League level. I think Huddy has done a fine job, it’s just an opportunity where we will flip that position. It could be back and forth a couple times and try to get the best out of both those guys.”
Nola will continue to get the majority of playing time behind the plate, but Odom likely will get the start in Sunday afternoon’s series finale with a short turnaround from Saturday night’s game. Rookie Justus Sheffield starts Sunday and Odom worked with him last year at Double-A Arkansas.
Guilbeau has also bounced between the alternate training site and the active roster as the 27-year old has allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings in four appearances during two separate stints with the big league club.
From the trainier's room
• After seeing a number of specialists, Graveman will likely pursue rehab treatments instead of a surgical procedure to deal with the neck issue that sent him to the 10-day injured list after his second start of the season. Servais said the veteran right-hander remains hopeful of returning to pitch at some point this season.
• Reliever Yoshihisa Hirano has joined the alternate training site in Tacoma after spending several weeks throwing at the team’s facility in Peoria, Ariz., as he builds his arm back up after being sick with COVID-19 and missing the first few weeks of Summer Camp. The 38-year-old right-hander will begin facing hitters in Tacoma and “could be back with us here pretty soon,” Servais said.
• Catcher Tom Murphy continues progressing from the broken bone in his left foot, “maybe not as fast as he’d like, but he is feeling better,” according to Servais. There is still no timetable on a potential return from the club’s No. 1 catcher, who went on the 10-day IL the day before the regular season opened.