Late last season, Shawn Kelley returned from major elbow surgery to pitch in 10 games for the Seattle Mariners, not allowing a run in 12 innings – and knew he wasn’t right.
“I’d pitch, and the next morning my arm would be hanging,” Kelley said Saturday after being recalled from Tacoma. “I’ve got my arm strength back. I have more velocity on my fastball, more sharpness to my slider.”
Kelley was bought up when rookie right-hander Erasmo Ramirez was optioned to Tacoma, where he’ll join the starting rotation beginning Monday.
“He did a great job here in different situations, and there’s no doubt in my mind he can start here,” manager Eric Wedge said. “Right now, if we needed a spot starter, Erasmo isn’t stretched out enough to give us innings. We’re a month in, and he needed innings.”
In seven games, Ramirez pitched 11 innings and had a 2.45 earned-run average, allowing hitters a .225 average.
Although he’ll likely need three starts or more to get stretched out, that could change depending upon the starts the Mariners get from Kevin Millwood (0-3, 5.34) and Hector Noesi (1-3, 7.83) in the next few weeks.
As the benching of Chone Figgins showed, Wedge has patience, but it’s not infinite.
As for Kelley, the 28-year-old right-hander has battled injuries throughout his career, and in three seasons with Seattle has appeared in only 73 games.
In those, he has gone 8-5 with a 3.66 ERA. He’ll likely return to middle-to-setup relief, although he said he was prepared for anything.
“When the phone rings, I’ll be ready,” Kelley said. “It could be one batter or multiple innings. I feel great; better than when I came up last September.”
FURBUSH CAN HIT
Mariners pitchers began taking batting practice Saturday, preparing for interleague play, which begins for Seattle on their next trip with a stop in Colorado.
Surprise of the day: Charlie Furbush can hit.
“Eight swings, I hit two out,” Furbush said. “I was a good hitter in school. I’d DH when I wasn’t pitching. Since then, in the offseasons, I’ll get in the cage just to see what I’ve got left now and then.
“I love hitting. My goal is to hit well enough in BP to get one at-bat in the big leagues. I’d love to pinch hit.”
Wedge shook his head when told that.
“They’d all volunteer,” he said. “Pitchers want to hit and hitters want to pitch.”
The Mariners have lost seven games by a run this season, and the only two teams with as many or more are in the National League – Arizona (9) and San Francisco (7). … Seattle leads the majors in games lost when blowing a lead (10). … Brendan Ryan returned from the 10-game trip with a suitcase empty of hits. Ryan went 0-for-22. … Look out below: After 28 games, the Mariners had used seven players at DH, and they had batted a combined .178 with two home runs and 12 RBI.
Seattle plays host to Minnesota in a 1:10 p.m. game today that will be televised on Root Sports. Probable starting pitchers: Nick Blackburn (0-3, 6.64 ERA) vs. Hector Noesi (1-3, 7.83).firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Twitter: @LarryLaRue