Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Servais describes Felix's role in Mariners' 'pen

Cano raking in Minors; Seattle extends contract with Double-A Arkansas
MLB.com @gregjohnsmlb

HOUSTON -- Felix Hernandez's role in the Mariners' bullpen hasn't been firmly defined yet, but manager Scott Servais said the 32-year-old right-hander will be given time to adjust to the quicker warmup needed and won't be brought into the middle of innings right off the bat.

Hernandez last started on Tuesday for Seattle and was told on Thursday that he'd be shifting to the bullpen after a season-long struggle in the rotation led to an 8-10 record and 5.73 ERA in 23 starts. He chose on his own to go sit in the bullpen during Thursday night's 8-6 victory over the Astros, even though he wasn't going to pitch.

View Full Game Coverage

HOUSTON -- Felix Hernandez's role in the Mariners' bullpen hasn't been firmly defined yet, but manager Scott Servais said the 32-year-old right-hander will be given time to adjust to the quicker warmup needed and won't be brought into the middle of innings right off the bat.

Hernandez last started on Tuesday for Seattle and was told on Thursday that he'd be shifting to the bullpen after a season-long struggle in the rotation led to an 8-10 record and 5.73 ERA in 23 starts. He chose on his own to go sit in the bullpen during Thursday night's 8-6 victory over the Astros, even though he wasn't going to pitch.

View Full Game Coverage

The Mariners have an extra long reliever on staff right now in Casey Lawrence, who was called up Thursday along with Nick Rumbelow when Sam Tuivailala went on the disabled list and Chasen Bradford was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

• Felix will move to Mariners' bullpen

One of those pitchers likely will be sent down before Sunday when the Mariners need to add a starter to take Hernandez's spot in the series finale against the Astros. Servais said no replacement would be named yet, but indications are that Erasmo Ramirez could come off the disabled list to fill that role.

Ramirez has been sidelined since May 1 with a strained shoulder, but he started four Minor League rehab games in the past two weeks and has posted a 2.77 ERA with 11 hits, 16 strikeouts and two walks in 13 innings in three outings for Tacoma and one with Double-A Arkansas.

Servais said whoever starts Sunday would likely be ticketed for four to five innings and then let the bullpen finish the job. In theory, Hernandez could be part of that group, and Servais didn't rule out using Hernandez anytime in the coming days as the Mariners look to stay in the American League Wild Card chase.

"You have to find the right spots to use him," Servais said prior to Friday's game. "I don't anticipate right now bringing him in in the middle of an inning. You need to give him time to warm up and make sure he's loose and ready to go into the game. Certainly, a starter's warmup is different than a reliever.

"He's used to getting out there and playing long toss and then throwing 30-40 pitches before he walks into a game. We'll try to give him time to get loose and pick the right spots as much as anything. I don't have it all mapped out. It's not like he's going to plug in there and go get two guys in the seventh tonight. But certainly he can throw multiple innings and give you some length. So that's how we'll look to use him."

• What is Felix going to be like in the bullpen?

Servais understands Hernandez will need time to mentally adjust to the idea of pitching relief after 14 seasons as a Major League starter.

"He was not crazy about hearing the news, but I tried to give him a day to let it soak in and see where it's at there," Servais said. "I don't want to get too far into it. We'll see how it plays out. Hopefully he can help us when he gets a chance to get in there."

Worth noting
Robinson Cano was slated to play second base on Friday for Short-Season Class A Everett in his fourth Minor League game as he prepares to return from his 80-game suspension. Cano went 3-for-4 with a double and home run on Thursday while playing first base for Everett and will continue working at different defensive positions this weekend before joining the Mariners on Tuesday in Oakland.

"Robbie is excited and is having fun being back playing again," Servais said. "It's a long time to sit there and not play. He enjoys the game and enjoys playing. It's getting closer."

Tweet from @Mariners: Meanwhile, in Everett. pic.twitter.com/T4hImDwL6F

• The Mariners announced an extension of their player development contract with the Arkansas Travelers that will keep the Texas League club as their Double-A affiliate through 2020.

• Left-hander Roenis Elias threw a perfect sixth inning with two strikeouts in his first rehab outing for Tacoma on Thursday in Salt Lake City. Elias, on the 10-day DL since July 31 with a triceps strain, might need one more Minor League outing but is close to being able to rejoin the Mariners, according to Servais.

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

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano, Roenis Elias, Felix Hernandez