Seattle Mariners

Mariners make another bullpen swap for a fresh arm prior to series opener in Baltimore

RIght-hander Christian Bergman is back with the Mariners.
RIght-hander Christian Bergman is back with the Mariners. AP

In what figures to be one of their final "fresh-arm" moves of the season, the Mariners summoned veteran right-hander Christian Bergman back to the big leagues prior to Monday’s series opener in Baltimore.

Bergman replaces right-hander Dan Altavilla, who was optioned (officially) to Triple-A Tacoma after pitching a career-high three innings Sunday in a 10-1 loss to the Yankees in New York.

This marks Bergman’s third tour with the Mariners. He was 4-4 with a 4.91 ERA in 11 previous games, including eight starts, from May 7 to June 20 and Aug. 12-13.

Bergman, 29, was designated for assignment after his last tour, but he remained with the organization by accepting an outright assignment to the Rainiers after clearing waivers.

The Mariners have one opening on their 40-man roster after Bergman’s return.

Optioning Altavilla, 24, to the Rainiers was expected because his 45-pitch workload Sunday effectively rendered him unavailable for the three games in Baltimore.

Such concerns won’t exist by the time the Mariners return home Friday for the start of a nine-game homestand. MLB rules permit clubs to expand their rosters to as many as 40 players on Sept. 1 for the remainder of the season.

Altavilla should return at some point in September for what will be a fifth big-league tour. He is 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA in 31 appearances, while also going 1-0 with a 1.61 ERA in 19 games at Tacoma.

Despite the expanded rosters in September, optioned players remain ineligible to be recalled for 10 days unless they replace a player placed on the disabled list.

***Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, whom the Mariners signed Aug. 11 to a minor-league deal, became a free agent by exercising an out clause in his contract.

Gomez, 29, allowed one earned run in 5 2/3 innings over five appearances at Tacoma and loomed as a possible September promotion candidate.

He had 37 saves last season at Philadelphia but was released June 23 after compiling a 7.25 ERA in 18 games.

OTHER WATCHPOINTS

***The Mariners reopen an old scar in facing right-hander Chris Tillman (1-7 with a 7.75 ERA) at 4:05 p.m. Pacific time Monday in the start to a three-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore. Tillman was part of what might be the worst trade in franchise history.

***What trade? On Feb. 8, 2008, the Mariners traded Tillman, outfielder Adam Jones, reliever George Sherrill and two other players to the Orioles for left-hander Erik Bedard. Tillman is 7-1 with a 3.30 ERA in 11 career games against the Mariners.

***The Mariners are starting lefty Marco Gonzales (0-1, 6.23), who has yet to pitch through the fifth inning in four starts since his Aug. 5 recall from Tacoma. The Mariners are 2-2 in his starts.

***The Mariners enter the series at 66-65 and trailing Minnesota (67-63) by 1 1/2 games in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth. Los Angeles is tied with the Mariners at 66-65.

***Baltimore is 65-65 and one-half game behind the Mariners and Angels (and two games behind the Twins). The Orioles are coming off a three-game weekend sweep of AL East leader Boston.

***The Mariners won two of three when the clubs played Aug. 14-16 at Safeco Field. Those were the Mariners’ most-recent home games. The current three-game series at Camden Yards concludes a 12-game trip through four cities.

***The Mariners are 5-4 on their current trip. They won two of three at Tampa Bay and Atlanta before losing two of three in New York.

TIME CAPSULE

It was 20 years ago Monday — Aug. 28, 1997 — that Omar Olivares became first pitcher in Mariners history to drive in a run.

Olivares actually drove in two runs with a single through the left side in the second inning against Pedro Astacio at Colorado in the fifth interleague road game in Mariners history.

It gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead, but Olivares couldn’t hold it. He gave up six runs in six innings in a 9-6 loss to the Rockies.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners

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