Picture a wild roller-coaster ride playing out over a series of several days where each exhilarating thrill seems to top the previous one.
Left-hander Dillon Overton rejoined the Mariners prior to Thursday’s series finale after spending the three previous days on paternity leave while his wife, Morgan, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
"It’s the best week of my entire life," he marveled, "and it will never be topped by another week in my entire life. You can’t beat it. Having a child and being on the opening day roster (for the first time) in a four-day span? It’s unbelievable."
Overton missed the ceremonies surrounding opening day Monday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. But never mind. It’ll be opening night Friday in Anaheim when the Mariners open a three-game weekend series against the Angels.
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And come next Monday, the Mariners will stage their home opener at Safeco Field prior to the start of a three-game rematch against the Astros.
The Mariners cleared space for Overton’s return by optioning right-hander Chase De Jong to Triple-A Tacoma. It was De Jong who filled the vacancy when the club placed Overton on the paternity list.
"I’m grateful for them letting me go home for the birth of my son," Overton said. "It’s bittersweet. I’m happy to be here, but I didn’t want to leave him either. I’m happy to be here and to get back into the groove of things."
The Mariners acquired Overton, 25, in a Jan. 26 trade from Oakland for minor-league catcher Jason Goldstein and chose to keep him on their opening day roster when they opted to start the season with an eight-man bullpen.
Despite the pending birth of his child.
"He earned the right to make our opening day club," manager Scott Servais said. "We didn’t want to penalize him because he’s going to be a dad for the first time. I don’t think that’s a good message to send."
Oliver Ray Overton was born Tuesday and arrived healthy at 20 1/2 inches and 7 pounds, 15 ounces in Ennis, Texas, which is located about 45 minutes south of Dallas..
"I got to spend some quality time with them," Overton said. "We had a lot of people coming in and out, family, but once everybody left, my wife made sure that I taking care of him and holding him because she knew I was leaving.
"It was a big deal. It sucks having to leave him and her so soon, but this is my job. She understands that. It’ll be all right."
Overton said he was able to work out during all three days of his leave.
"I had to find time," he said. "I threw twice in the hospital parking lot. My brother-in-law caught me once, and my father-in-law caught me the second time. I’ve played catch with both of them in the offseason.
"One day I went to the high school (to throw) before we went to the hospital and threw a light bullpen to one of the catchers there. I think I got in everything that I needed to get in."
Two right-handed pitchers on the Mariners’ roster in the Dominican Summer League received 72-game suspensions without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid.
Encarnacion signed in 2014 and spent the last three seasons in the DSL. He was 4-3 with a 2.37 ERA last season in 17 games, including three starts.
Taveras signed in 2015 and spent the last two seasons in the DSL. He was 1-3 with a 6.98 ERA last season in 15 relief appearances.
Three things to know going in Friday’s pitching matchup between Yovani Gallardo and Los Angeles’ right-hander Jesse Chavez in the start to a three-game weekend series at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
***Chavez is well known to the Mariners from spending 2012-15 with Oakland — and they've handled him pretty well. He is 0-6 with a 5.84 ERA in 17 career appearances against the Mariners, including seven starts.
***Perhaps facing Chavez will get the Mariners’ big boys going. Robinson Cano is 10-for-22 in his career against Chavez, while Nelson Cruz is 6-for-14 with three homers and seven RBIs.
***Gallardo is 0-0 in two career starts against the Angels but has given up seven runs and 14 hits in nine innings. Albert Pujols has owned Gallardo (mostly) from their National League days: 16-for-34 (.471) with four homers and 13 RBIs.
De Jong is scheduled to slot back into Triple-A Tacoma’s rotation by starting Monday when the Rainiers conclude their five-game opening series at Sacramento (Giants).
Even with De Jong’s return, Tacoma is down three starters from its projected rotation. Ariel Miranda replaced injured Drew Smyly in the Mariners’ rotation; Overton made the club as a long reliever, and Cody Martin has an elbow injury.
Martin isn’t expected to rejoin the Rainiers before May.
Sam Gaviglio effectively started Thursday in Wednesday’s season opener. The rest of the rotation is Chris Heston, Dylan Unsworth, Christian Bergman and De Jong.
***Andrew Moore started Thursday for Double-A Arkansas in its opener against Corpus Christi (Astros). The rest of the Travelers’ projected rotation: Max Povse, Tyler Herb, Kyle Hunter and Lindsey Caughel.
***Nick Neidert started Thursday for Hi-A Modesto in its season opener at Lake Elsinore (Padres). The rest of the Nuts’ projected rotation: Pablo Lopez, Anthony Misiewicz, Reggie McClain and Nathan Bannister.
Kyle Seager entered Thursday tied for the major-league lead with five walks. Minnesota’s Jason Castro also had five walks through Wednesday. Seager had three walks in Wednesday’s game, including one with the bases loaded in the 13th inning that provided the Mariners with a brief lead.
It was 17 years ago Friday — April 7, 2000 — that center fielder Mike Cameron took a homer away from New York’s Derek Jeter by making a Griffey-esque catch at the wall in the eighth inning at Safeco Field.
The catch preserved a lead in what turned into a 7-5 victory.
Cameron was in his fourth game with the Mariners after being acquired roughly two months earlier in a four-for-one trade that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to Cincinnati.
Cameron had an 18.3 WAR (wins above replacement) rating in four years with the Mariners before signing with the Mets as a free agent. Griffey had a 7.9 WAR rating in those four years and a 12.9 rating overall in nine years with the Reds.
The Mariners limp out of Houston and head west for a three-game weekend series at Anaheim, which begins at 7:07 p.m. Friday at Angel Stadium.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (6-8 with a 5.42 ERA last season at Baltimore) will face Angels right-hander Jesse Chavez (2-2 with a 4.43 ERA in 62 relief outings last year with Toronto and the Los Angeles Dodgers).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network, including mariners.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv).
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners