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Phelps eager to help Mariners reach playoffs

Veteran pitcher values winning above any specific role
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

SEATTLE -- David Phelps arrived at Safeco Field on Friday, ready to get to work. It's unclear in what role the Mariners will use their new reliever, but he's ready for anything and that suits his new team perfectly.

Phelps' versatility as a former starter who can work multiple innings or be a very effective late-inning reliever made him particularly attractive to Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, who has seen what a weapon Chris Devenski has been for the Astros this season in a similar role.

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SEATTLE -- David Phelps arrived at Safeco Field on Friday, ready to get to work. It's unclear in what role the Mariners will use their new reliever, but he's ready for anything and that suits his new team perfectly.

Phelps' versatility as a former starter who can work multiple innings or be a very effective late-inning reliever made him particularly attractive to Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto, who has seen what a weapon Chris Devenski has been for the Astros this season in a similar role.

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Phelps was acquired from the Marlins on Thursday for four Minor Leaguers. He gathered his wife and three young kids, hopped in a plane and flew the 6 1/2 hours to Seattle to join a team fighting for a postseason berth. The Mariners are in the middle of a four-game series against the Yankees club he pitched for his first three years in the big leagues.

"I'm excited," said the 30-year-old right-hander. "It's meaningful baseball again, a good group of guys in there, going the right direction. I want to be a part of it."

As for how he'll be used?

"Guys that can go multiple innings and handle both sides of the plate against lefties and righties are very valuable," said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who figures to use Phelps to take some of the pressure off other late-inning options Nick Vincent, Steve Cishek, Tony Zych and Marc Rzepczynski as the club tries to get the ball to closer Edwin Diaz.

Phelps posted a 3.45 ERA in 44 outings with the Marlins this year. He came up as a starter with the Yankees and could be an option in the Seattle rotation next year. He started five games last August for the Marlins and was 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA before injuring his oblique in batting practice. He sat out two weeks before finishing out the year in the 'pen.

Which role does he prefer?

"I want to win," Phelps said. "I honestly do not care what role I pitch in. I got caught up with that early in my career. Coming into Spring Training last year, I just said I'm going to be the best version of myself that I can be, regardless of my role, and everything else will take care of itself."

Phelps, a former Notre Dame standout who was drafted by the Yankees in the 14th round in 2008, has come to understand that approach and the evolving nature of MLB's bullpen use.

"Outs are valuable," he said. "It doesn't matter how many you're getting, as long as you're getting them. Your team is going to find value in that. You're seeing more multiinning relievers in baseball. Back in the day, a swing man was basically a long reliever or spot starter. Now you get a guy in Houston like Devenski, who is multiple innings and pitching really big innings for them.

"That was kind of the idea coming into the season for me in Miami, but it didn't end up working out, just the way our pitching staff lined up. But I'm just here to get outs. I'm here to pitch whatever role they need me in and do the best I can."

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

Seattle Mariners, David Phelps