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Rookie Medina filling key role in bullpen

HOUSTON -- One of the more pleasant surprises for the Mariners this season has been rookie right-hander Yoervis Medina, who continues to shine in the bullpen and has thrown the most innings of any reliever on the team.

The 25-year-old Venezuelan just converted to the bullpen last year and has flourished since being promoted in mid-April, going 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings in 54 games. Among American League rookies, he is first in the league in holds (16), third in appearances, third in strikeouts (63) and fifth in strikeouts per nine innings (9.66).

"He's been unbelievable for us, to the point where we are trying to be careful with him because he's so easy to use," manager Eric Wedge said. "He's been so good against right-handers and left-handers. He continues to get better. The way he competes out there with his stuff has been incredible. He's as valuable as anybody we've had down there this year."

Medina's 54 appearances are already the ninth most in club history for a rookie. So while the youngster normally has pitched in Winter Ball in Venezuela, Wedge said that already has been nixed in order to give Medina a needed break.

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