Friday night brought only partial clarity regarding the Seattle Mariners’ pending roster moves following a 9-5 victory over Oakland at the O.co Coliseum.
Manager Lloyd McClendon revealed who is leaving: starting pitcher Roenis Elias and relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Vidal Nuno were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
Who’s coming up?
“The corresponding moves,” McClendon said, “will be made (Saturday).”
That’s not really surprising. For practical business reasons, clubs rarely confirm a player has been recalled or selected from a minor league club before they actually arrive.
McClendon confirmed that right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma will be activated from the disabled list in time to start Monday against Detroit at Safeco Field. That is the reason for Elias heading to Tacoma.
“Elias has thrown the ball extremely well,” McClendon said. “He probably, really, didn’t deserve to be going down. But we can only carry so many guys on the roster, and he’s got options.”
But the Mariners are unlikely to activate Iwakuma prior to Monday. That gives them two games to with play their roster — and they will probably promote a position player.
The likeliest candidate is outfielder James Jones, who offers speed and the ability to play all three outfield positions.
The Mariners optioned Jones to Tacoma on June 24, which means he has spent the required 10 days in the minors before being recalled. (The 10-day rule doesn’t apply if the player is replacing someone on the disabled list.)
Suspended left-handed reliever David Rollins must also be returned to the 25-man roster by Saturday unless the Mariners choose to make another move in line with his status as a Rule 5 pick.
Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on a major league roster for the entire next season. They must be offered back to their former club for $25,000 before they can be sent to the minors.
Rollins, 25, received an 80-game suspension on March 27 after testing positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
A suspended player is permitted a 16-day rehab assignment to work his way back into shape. For Rollins, who had been at Tacoma, that assignment ended Friday.
Rollins has not allowed a run in 91/3 innings over seven appearances in his rehab assignment at Tacoma. His expected activation explains the need to send Nuno, who has a 2.53 ERA in nine appearances, to Tacoma.
The decision to option Wilhelmsen is different in that it is merit-based. He has allowed nine runs and 11 hits in 62/3 innings over his last seven appearances. His ERA jumped from 1.96 to 4.68 in that span.
“The thing I told Tom was just to go down and get your command back,” McClendon said. “Get back to pitching off the fastball and commanding the zone. He just hasn’t done that his last 12-13 outings.”
The Mariners are likely to replace Wilhelmsen by recalling a reliever. With Danny Farquhar still struggling at Tacoma, the leading possibility might be Mayckol Guaipe, who had a 3.94 ERA in 26 games for the Rainiers.
STICKING WITH MONTY
The Mariners had considered activating Iwakuma in time to start Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics, but the attraction of having Mike Montgomery, his hottest pitcher, proved too strong for McClendon to resist.
McClendon confirmed prior to Friday’s game that Montgomery, who pitched shutouts in his two previous starts, will stay on his regular turn for Sunday’s game against the Athletics.
Iwakuma, 34, hasn’t pitched since suffering a strained back muscle — the right latissimus dorsi — on April 21 in a routine day-after throwing session following an April 20 start against Houston.
He will return after making three rehab starts — one at Short-A Everett and two at Triple-A Tacoma. He permitted two runs and 11 hits in 131/3 innings while striking out 13 and walking two.
Iwakuma exited his last start, June 30 at Tacoma, in the sixth inning because of a finger blister, which has long been a problem in part because of his reliance on a split-finger fastball.
But he experienced no problems with his back, and club officials cleared him to return to active duty when his finger posed no problem Thursday in a routine between-starts bullpen workout.
Iwakuma was 0-1 with a 6.61 ERA in three starts before his injury, but he was a combined 38-20 with a 3.07 ERA over the three previous years. He is 4-4 and 3.84 in eight career games against Oakland.
Reports indicate that the Mariners reached agreements with three 16-year-old Dominicans since Thursday’s start to the international signing period. They have $2,150,300 in their allotted bonus pool.
▪ Shortstop Carlos Vargas, ranked as the No. 19 international prospect by Baseball America. It was initially reported that Vargas (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) received a $1.7 million bonus. Updated reports show that it was $1.625 million.
▪ Catcher Daniel Santos (6-2, 180) to a $110,000 bonus.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Ivan Fortunato (6-3, 170). His bonus has not been reported.
It was 24 years ago Saturday — July 4, 1991 — that Jay Buhner had the first of 22 multihomer games in his career. He hit two against Greg Hibbard in a 3-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox at the Kingdome.
Buhner had at least one multihomer game for nine consecutive years.
He never hit three homers in a game.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin confirmed that ace right-hander Sonny Gray won’t start Sunday in the series finale. Gray is still recovering from a nasty bout of salmonella and is now targeted to start Tuesday in New York. The Mariners will instead face reliever Chris Bassitt, who is making a second straight spot start in place of Gray. … Logan Morrison served as the leadoff hitter for the 18th time since June 1. He had never batted leadoff in 511 career games over six seasons prior to June 1. … Mark Lowe’s 0.79 ERA trails only the 0.26 by Kansas City’s Wade Davis among American League pitchers with at least 20 appearances.
The Mariners and Athletics continue their four-game series at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at the O.co Coliseum.
Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez (10-4, 3.05 ERA) will try for a third time to get his 11th victory when he faces Oakland right-hander Kendall Graveman (5-4, 3.47).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM.