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Noesi hopes solid outing is start of something

ARLINGTON -- Hector Noesi had some well-documented struggles as a starter last year for the Mariners, but the 26-year-old right-hander has pitched well in limited bullpen duties and he came through in that role again Friday in his season debut.

Noesi, just recalled from Triple-A Tacoma a day earlier, shut out the Rangers for 3 1/3 innings on one hit in the Mariners' 7-0 loss. He was 2-12 with a 6.24 ERA in 18 starts for Seattle last year, but now has an 0.75 ERA in five relief appearances, allowing with just one run and six hits over 12 innings.

The Dominican native hasn't given up on a rotation role, however.

"It's on me," Noesi said before Saturday's game. "I'd love to be a starter. I can be a starter the way I am right now. Don't think too much and just throw my pitches where they want me to throw them."

Noesi spent a year in the Yankees bullpen before being acquired by Seattle in the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda trade and his career relief numbers are 2-1 with a 3.39 ERA in 63 2/3 innings.

After Noesi struggled again this spring, he was sent to Double-A Jackson and didn't allow a run in his first two starts. He had just been promoted to Tacoma last week, but got the call to Seattle before ever pitching with the Rainiers when the Mariners ran into an arms shortage in their bullpen.

The demotion to Jackson was a wake-up call.

"They just said, 'Go down to Double-A and try to believe in your stuff again.' So that's what I did," Noesi said. "It was a surprise for me. It was a hard moment. But I have to take whatever happens. Anyway, it's a job. If you don't take care of your business, they're going to send you down."

Friday's strong outing reaffirmed that the youngster might be more suited for bullpen duty, however.

"It's something we've talked about," said manager Eric Wedge. "We've seen him good up here a few times in that role. You always want to exhaust young pitchers that have the ability to start and give them every opportunity to do that. We've been doing that. But hey, he's up here now in the bullpen role and we'll see what happens."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog.
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