Call it a soft commitment, but rookie right-hander Sam Gaviglio is likely to be recalled next week from Triple-A Tacoma when the Mariners need a fifth starter for their rotation.
"It’s probably going to be Sam," manager Scott Servais confirmed prior to Saturday’s game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. "He’ll probably come back when we get to that, when we need him."
That need will occur Tuesday in Houston.
The Mariners optioned Gaviglio to Tacoma on July 7 in order to add an extra reliever, Emilio Pagan, for their final few games going into and coming out of the All-Star break.
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Gaviglio, 27, made one start for the Rainiers, on July 13, which positions him to return Tuesday on regular rest. He was 3-4 with a 4.31 ERA in 11 big-league games, including 10 starts, prior to getting sent back to Tacoma.
A move to recall Gaviglio would represent a disappointment for veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who has pitched well as a long reliever after losing his spot in the rotation.
Gallardo has allowed one tainted run and just four hits in 10 1/3 innings over three relief outings after going 3-7 with a 6.30 ERA in 14 starts.
How the Mariners clear space for Gaviglio, Servais said, hinges on the status of designated hitter Nelson Cruz’s ailing right knee and means a likely choice between Pagan and outfielder Boog Powell.
If Cruz remains limited, the Mariners are likely to keep Powell as an extra player on their bench instead of an eighth reliever.
"I do know I like (Cruz) in the batter’s box," Servais said, "but we do need to have some coverage there. If you’re in a tight game, and you’re down, you’re going to have to pinch-run. You can’t just leave him out there.
"That’s where the extra body becomes helpful."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners