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Mariners make series of roster moves

MLB.com Reporter @gregjohnsmlb

CHICAGO -- A Mariners team that has already used a franchise-record 29 pitchers this season added two new arms to the mix on Saturday, as general manager Jerry Dipoto called up right-hander Dan Altavilla from Double-A Jackson and recently-acquired switch-pitcher Pat Venditte from Triple-A Tacoma to bolster the bullpen.

The club also recalled first baseman Dae-Ho Lee from Tacoma to take the place of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back issue. Outfielder Norichika Aoki and infielder Mike Freeman were optioned to Tacoma to make room for Altavilla and Venditte.

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CHICAGO -- A Mariners team that has already used a franchise-record 29 pitchers this season added two new arms to the mix on Saturday, as general manager Jerry Dipoto called up right-hander Dan Altavilla from Double-A Jackson and recently-acquired switch-pitcher Pat Venditte from Triple-A Tacoma to bolster the bullpen.

The club also recalled first baseman Dae-Ho Lee from Tacoma to take the place of reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back issue. Outfielder Norichika Aoki and infielder Mike Freeman were optioned to Tacoma to make room for Altavilla and Venditte.

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Both Altavilla and Venditte are interesting stories. Altavilla, the Mariners' No. 22 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, was converted to a relief role this year. Like rookie closer Edwin Diaz, the 23-year-old out of Mercyhurst University adapted well to the move and has gone 7-3 with 16 saves and a 1.91 ERA in 43 outings and now makes the jump from Double-A to the Majors.

Venditte, 31, has a little Major League experience and garnered considerable notoriety a year ago, when he appeared in 26 games for the A's as the first ambidextrous pitcher in the Majors since Greg Harris in 1995. But Harris was primarily a right-hander, and only threw left-handed to two batters in the last game of his 15-year career while with the Expos.

The only previous full-time switch-pitcher in baseball history is believed to be Tony Mullane, who regularly threw with both arms during his career from 1881-94. Venditte wears a six-fingered glove that works on either hand, and he declares before each batter which arm he'll use to pitch in that at-bat, per MLB rules.

Video: NYY@TOR: Ambidextrous Venditte pitches 1-2-3 9th

The Mariners see Venditte primarily as a left-handed specialist, though his limited Major League splits have been better against right-handers. He pitched eight games for the Blue Jays this season with a 5.19 ERA and 11 runs allowed in 8 2/3 innings. He was 2-2 with a 4.40 ERA in 28 2/3 innings for the A's as a rookie in 2015.

Venditte allowed just one run and seven hits in 8 1/3 innings with 11 strikeouts in five outings for Tacoma, after being acquired from Toronto for a player to be named on Aug. 6.

The Mariners are now back to a normal seven-man bullpen, though they'll be without Wilhelmsen for at least the next two weeks. The 32-year-old was only available to pitch once in the last five days, due to his back issues. The club made the decision to sit him down after Friday's 3-1 win.

That move did open the door for Lee's return, after the 34-year-old rookie from Korea hit .519 in 27 at-bats in seven games for Tacoma. He'll again provide a right-handed platoon with Adam Lind at first base, a role he filled well in the first half before hitting .078 with one homer in 51 at-bats in 19 games prior to his demotion.

Aoki now returns to Tacoma for a second time this season. The 34-year-old from Japan has hit .316 in 30 games since his recall from Triple-A, but the Mariners like rookie Guillermo Heredia's outfield defense and can also use utility man Shawn O'Malley in left field at times against right-handed pitching.

Freeman was with the team for two games in his second stint with the club, but didn't see any action, as he was brought up as insurance while third baseman Kyle Seager was sidelined by a bruised right foot.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast.

 

Seattle Mariners, Dan | Seattle Mariners Altavilla, Pat Venditte, Tom Wilhelmsen