The impact of the World Baseball Classic hasn’t been particularly kind this season to the Mariners’ pitching staff.
Coincidence or not, two starters who participated, Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly, are on the disabled list. Their closer, Edwin Diaz, has been much less effective than hoped.
Rookie reliever Emilio Pagan, promoted Tuesday from Triple-A Tacoma, provides a possible counter-point. He was a little-used member of Puerto Rico’s bullpen but cites the experience as pivotal in preparing him for the big leagues.
"Just the experience of being around players who had been in the big leagues for a long time," said Pagan, a 10th-round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. "Picking their brains. Seeing their routines day in and day out.
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"Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan. Guys were very open with me and told me that I had the talent to do it. Just to keep working and hope for the best."
Asked for one specific, Pagan cited Molina’s work ethic.
"Yadi, to me, was crazy," Pagan said. "The guy was taking 30-to-40 ground balls at shortstop during (batting practice). He’d run 10 poles (foul line to foul line) before the game.
"I thinking, `This guy catches 120 games a year. How does he do it?’ So just knowing maybe there is more in your body. To just push it to the limit. And you can get more out of it than you think you can."
Pagan, who turns 27 on Sunday, has a 2.47 ERA with 47 saves over 151 games in five minor-league seasons. Promoting him Tuesday meant adding him to the 40-man roster, which suggests the Mariners believe he’s ready for big-league duty.
Had they just sought to add a fresh arm for mop-up duty, the likelier move would have been to recall someone already on the roster or to add a veteran who might viewed as expendable when future needs require a roster spot.
Instead, the Mariners promoted Pagan.
"He’s a young guy who we like," manager Scott Servais said. "He was a WBC guy with Puerto Rico. We didn’t see him a ton in spring training. He just had a couple of outings late. Good arm. Good breaking ball."
Pagan still clings to a piece of his WBC experience; he still sports the bleached-blond look that Puerto Rico’s players adopted as a unifying gesture. In contrast, Diaz returned to his normal hair color shortly after the tournament ended.
"It’s still there," Pagan acknowledged. "It’s been working for me. I’m not super superstitious, but I don’t want to ruin anything that going good. So I’m just sticking with it."
CANO HEATING UP
Robinson Cano is heating up after a slow start.
Cano went 3-for-5 with two RBIs in Tuesday’s loss to the Angels, which raised his overall slash to .269/.328./.444 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage).
Cano has a .327 average (16-for-49) over the last 12 games after batting .220 (13-for-59) over the first 15 games.
Cano also had his 486th double in Tuesday’s loss, which moved him into a tie with two Hall of Fame players, Lou Brock and Billy Herman, for 75th place on the all-time MLB list.
Cano has seven doubles this season and needs 23 more to join Stan Musial as the only players to have 30 or more in 13 consecutive seasons. Musial had a 16-year run from 1942-58.
FIEN TO TACOMA
Reliever Casey Fien opted to remain in the Mariners’ organization by accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Tacoma after clearing waivers.
Fien was designated for assignment Tuesday after allowing 10 runs in six innings over six appearances. It marked the second time this season that he accepted an outright assignment to the Rainiers.
NEXT STEP FOR CISHEK
Rehabbing reliever Steve Cishek is scheduled to throw another bullpen workout Thursday before likely heading back for another minor-league tuneup.
The Mariners believe Cishek fixed some mechanical flaws in a Tuesday bullpen workout under the supervision of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
"He made some strides," Servais said. "He’s feeling much better mechanically in how the ball was coming out, but he probably needs to go back out."
Cishek is recovering from October surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
The Mariners’ slow start now makes them a long shot to win the American League West Division, according to www.Bovada.lv, an online gaming service, but it hasn’t had much affect on their odds to win the World Series.
Bovada rated the Mariners as an 11/4 pick to win the division prior to the season and a 33/1 shot to win the World Series. The latest update has them at 9/1 to win the AL West and 40/1 to win the Series.
Houston is now a prohibitive 1/4 favorite to win the division crown. The Chicago Cubs are a 4/1 favorite to repeat as World Series champions. Cleveland is a 3/1 favorite to repeat as AL pennant winners.
Three things to note heading into Thursday’s pitching matchup between left-hander Ariel Miranda and Los Angeles right-hander Alex Meyer:
***Miranda is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in three career starts against the Angels. Meyer lost his only previous start against the Mariners when gave up four runs in four innings last September at Anaheim.
***Kole Calhoun is 4-for-7 with two walks in nine career plate appearances against Miranda. Mike Trout is 1-for-4 with four walks and a three-run homer, but Albert Pujols is hitless in eight at-bats. Jefry Marte is 1-for-7.
***Nelson Cruz had a two-run homer and a walk last year in two at-bats against Meyer. No other current Mariners have a hit against Meyer, although none has more than two plate appearances.
Lo-A Clinton third baseman Joe Rizzo is batting .346 (9-for-26) with a .419 on-base percentage in seven games since his promotion from extended spring training.
Rizzo, 19, was the Mariners’ second-round pick last year in the MLB Draft. He entered the season on the TNT Watch List and ranked as organization’s the No. 11 prospect by Baseball America.
The Mariners will miss Rangers ace Cole Hamels in their upcoming weekend series — and perhaps next month when they travel to Texas. The Rangers placed Hamels on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday because of a strained right oblique. He is expected to miss eight weeks…Angels outfielder Mike Trout was picked as the American League player of the month for April…reliever Nick Vincent, through Tuesday, had retired 26 of the last 28 batters faced…Jean Segura, through Tuesday, had reached base eight times in the first inning in 15 games as the leadoff hitter. He is 6-for-13 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch.
It was seven years ago Thursday — May 4, 2010 — that Jack Wilson tied a franchise record for shortstops by committing three errors in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay at Safeco Field.
It’s been done four other times, including three times by Craig Reynolds (once in 1977 and twice in 1978). Michael Morse did it once in 2005.
The Mariners and Angels conclude their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field when lefty Ariel Miranda (2-2 with a 3.81 ERA) opposes Los Angeles righty Alex Meyer (0-0, 4.91).
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).
Texas arrives Friday for a three-game weekend series before the Mariners leave for a six-game trip to Philadelphia and Toronto.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners