LOS ANGELES — About a week. For the second straight year, that’s how long it took for the Mariners to summon reliever Dominic Leone from Triple-A Tacoma.
Leone, 23, returned to the big leagues prior to Monday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers after the Mariners placed Tom Wilhelmsen on the 15-day disabled list because of a hyperextended elbow.
“It’s never a fun call-up,” Leone said. “I’m excited to be here, and it’s good to be back. I’m interested to see how this whole stint goes, but I feel for Tom.”
The move comes after Mariners stretched their bullpen over the weekend at Oakland in a 12-0 loss and two extra-inning victories. Manager Lloyd McClendon said: “The bullpen’s a mess.”
McClendon said he hoped not to use Fernando Rodney, Yoervis Medina or Danny Farquhar in Monday’s game at Dodger Stadium.
Wilhelmsen pitched 1 2/3 innings in Friday’s loss before suffering his injury Saturday in a pre-game workout. His time on the disabled list is backdated to Saturday.
“I got up to stretch a little bit," Wilhelmsen said, “and it was just bad timing. Danny (Farquhar) ran by me, (made contract) and I hyperextended my arm a little bit.”
Wilhelmsen said he didn’t believe the injury was serious.
“I’m expecting to throw sometime later in the week,” he said. “So pretty minor. But we need some help, so (the disabled list) is the right move.”
Leone supplies the relief corps with a fresh arm. He pitched one scoreless inning last Friday in his only appearance at Tacoma following a late-spring demotion to the minors.
“I’m in line to be ready to go tonight and the rest of the series,” he said. “However long I’m here.”
The Mariners optioned Leone to the Rainiers on April 3 after a series of poor spring performances. It marked a reversal in thinking because the club then recalled Carson Smith, who had previously been sent to Tacoma.
“It’s never a fun thing," Leone said, “and it really kind of got to me. It took me a day or two to readjust and say, `All right, this is the writing on the wall for the start of the season. Now, you’ve just got to get back to work.’”
Leone also opened last season, officially, at Tacoma but never pitched for the Rainiers before getting an April 4 summons to the Mariners. He then put together a strong season in going 8-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 57 games.
“That’s part of the depth we talked about in spring training,” McClendon said. “It’s always tough to send guys out, but one thing we impress upon them is we never end up with what we start with.
“There are always injuries, and you’re going to need help.”
ACKLEY IN CENTER
Didn’t see this coming, did you? Dustin Ackley started Monday in center field for the Mariners for the first time since the final game of the 2013 season.
“I’m sure he can find his way out there,” McClendon said. “If there’s a fly ball hit to him, he’ll catch the ball.”
Ackley also served as the club’s leadoff hitter for the first time since last July 31. Austin Jackson went to the bench.
“Austin is just getting a day off,” McClendon said. “I said before that I’ve got to watch him and make sure he’s rested throughout the year and strategically give him days off when I think he needs them.”
McClendon said he opted for Ackley over Justin Ruggiano as a replacement for Jackson in center field because the Mariners were facing a right-handed pitcher in Brandon McCarthy.
Chalk it up to interleague play, where the Mariners lose the designated hitter in road games against National League clubs.
“I’ve played there before,” Ackley said, “and it should be not too bad. I’m only a year removed from playing there a lot. In spring, I messed around over there occasionally (in batting practice).
“I feel center is one of those places where if you play left or right, center is a little bit easier. You get to track the ball. You get the good reads off the bat. I think it’ll be a smooth transition.”
Medina recorded his second career save Sunday with a scoreless 10th inning in an 8-7 victory at Oakland.
He picked up Rodney, who blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning after securing his second save of the season Saturday with a scoreless 11th inning in a 5-4 victory over the A’s.
Extra points if you can name the pitcher who saved both games the last time the Mariners won back-to-back games on the road in extra innings: Sept. 4-5, 1984 at Texas.
It was left-hander Dave Geisel, who recorded just one other save while pitching for the Mariners in 1984-85.
It was three years ago Tuesday April 14, 2012 — that right-hander Hector Noesi became the second Mariner in history to pitch eight shutout innings in his first game at Safeco Field.
Noesi limited Oakland to five hits while striking out six and walking one before Brandon League closed out a 4-0 victory over Oakland.
The first Mariner to pitch eight shutout innings in his Safeco debut? Felix Hernandez on Aug. 9, 2005 in a 1-0 victory over Minnesota. That was Hernandez’s second career start and first career victory.
Nelson Cruz needs one more homer to reach 200 in his career after hitting two over the weekend at Oakland. Both of his homers gave the Mariners the lead. A year ago, when he led the majors with 40 homers while playing for Baltimore, 14 of his homers put the Orioles in front…Hernandez reported no additional day-after problems with the soreness in his right quadriceps muscle, which forced him to leave Sunday’s game against Oakland after five innings…
The Mariners and Dodgers continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Dodger Stadium when right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1, 6.00) faces Los Angeles left-hander David Huff (0-0, 0.00).
The game can be seen on Root Sports and heard on 710 ESPN.