SEATTLE -- With the Trade Deadline just three days away, the Mariners added a reliever on Sunday without even needing to make a deal. Veteran right-hander Hunter Strickland, who has been sidelined since the fourth game of the season with a strained right lat muscle, was activated off the 60-day
SEATTLE -- With the Trade Deadline just three days away, the Mariners added a reliever on Sunday without even needing to make a deal. Veteran right-hander Hunter Strickland, who has been sidelined since the fourth game of the season with a strained right lat muscle, was activated off the 60-day injured list, and he will add some much-needed experience for the final two months.
Right-handed reliever Matt Carasiti was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma to open a 25-man roster spot for Strickland. Felix Hernandez was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to open a 40-man roster spot, but that doesn’t affect the veteran starter’s status as he’s already been sidelined for more than 60 days with right shoulder issues.
Strickland opened the season as the Mariners’ closer and recorded saves in the first two wins of the season in Japan, but then injured the muscle in the back of his shoulder in his third outing on March 29 against the Red Sox and has been rehabbing ever since.
“I’m feeling great,” said Strickland, who threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts in his third and final rehab game on Thursday for Tacoma. “It’s been a long time coming, so I’m definitely ready to go. That last game was the best I’ve felt yet, as far as pitch quality and bouncing back accordingly was important.”
The 30-year-old signed a one-year, $1.3 million deal as a free agent last winter and is under team control for two more years of arbitration eligibility. Strickland likely could have been a trade chip for general manager Jerry Dipoto had he been healthy, but it’s unlikely that contending teams would give up much at this point, given that he hasn’t pitched in a Major League game in nearly four months.
Strickland's goal over the final two months with the Mariners?
“Just pitch as much as I can, help the team win some games and just try to dominate,” Strickland said.
Strickland has a career record of 14-15 with 21 saves and a 3.00 ERA in 256 relief appearances over six seasons in the Majors, with the first five coming with the Giants. He saved 14 games last year for San Francisco.
Manager Scott Servais said he’ll ease Strickland back into the mix and won’t use him in a late-inning role initially.
“You probably won’t see us use Hunter on back-to-back days too often, just to get him built up,” Servais said. “But he’s been throwing the ball well on his rehab. The velocity has been there, the breaking ball has been good.
“I give Hunter a ton of credit, keeping a positive attitude throughout the entire rehab. It’s hard to do. He never got down, was a good teammate in the clubhouse, always trying to help any way he could. Hopefully he can stay healthy, get out there and throw the ball well.”
• Hernandez threw a two-inning, 30-pitch live batting practice session on Sunday to mixed reviews. The veteran right-hander is attempting to return before the end of the year from a shoulder issue that has sidelined him since mid-May, but he didn’t have much velocity throwing to Dee Gordon and Dylan Moore, and questions remain as to when he’ll be able to begin a Minor League rehab program.
“I thought his last 15-pitch session was better than the first 15,” Servais said. “We’ll see. He still has a ways to go, no doubt. But the last 10-15 pitches were better today. I’ll get together with the pitching coaches and see what they’re thinking. He could go out and throw a couple innings in [Class A Short-Season] Everett. We’ll wait and see.”
• Gordon’s presence in the batting cage was a definite positive, as the second baseman is ahead of schedule on his possible return after straining his left quad muscle on Monday, after which he was initially projected to miss three to four weeks. Gordon did some running and hitting Sunday, and he said he’s feeling much better. He’ll make the upcoming road trip with the Mariners to continue rehabbing with the team.
• Right fielder Mitch Haniger (ruptured testicle) is finally starting to feel better and will start picking up his rehab pace this coming week, doing some running in the pool and beginning to do some baseball activity, as well.
“We’ll keep the fingers crossed,” Servais said. “He’s felt pretty good here the last four to five days, which is a great sign.”
• First baseman Ryon Healy (spinal stenosis) has been shut down again from his rehab program in Peoria, Ariz., after developing soreness in his hips. Servais said it’s not clear if that is related to his lower back issues, but Healy will be seeing a specialist at Stanford University on Monday for further tests.
• First baseman Daniel Vogelbach was out of the lineup on Sunday after getting hit in the right elbow with a pitch during Saturday’s 8-1 win over the Tigers. Vogelbach remained in that game, but the elbow was swollen and Servais chose to give him the day off with the expectation that he’ll be ready by Tuesday’s series opener in Texas.
• Right-handed reliever Brandon Brennan, the Mariners’ rookie Rule 5 Draft choice, and he threw a scoreless inning with one walk and two strikeouts for Tacoma in his sixth rehab outing on Saturday and is close to returning after missing six weeks with a right shoulder strain. With the Trade Deadline looming, Brennan likely will remain in Tacoma until the roster situation shakes out over the next few days.
• Outfielder Keon Broxton, who was claimed off waivers from the Orioles on Saturday, will join the team Tuesday in Texas. A corresponding move will need to be made at that point to add him to the 25-man roster.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.