Seattle Mariners

Mariners get Guillermo Heredia back, but pitchers Erasmo Ramirez, Dan Altavilla head to DL

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, right, hands the ball to manager Scott Servais during the sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, right, hands the ball to manager Scott Servais during the sixth inning of the team's baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, April 27, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Outfielder Guillermo Heredia is back with the Seattle Mariners.

And Ichiro Suzuki is still here, too.

How does that work?

The Mariners will carry five outfielders after they announced right-hander Erasmo Ramirez would return to the disabled list. Ramirez had recently been activated from the DL, but now he could miss at least another month because of a strain in his shoulder.

Mariners manager Scott Servais said left-hander Wade LeBlanc will convert out of the bullpen to start in Ramirez's place on Thursday. LeBlanc did start eight games for the Mariners in 2016 before the Pittsburgh Pirates used him exclusively out of the bullpen in his 50 appearances with them last season.

"That's who he is and that's why we acquired him — so if things like this come up we could slide him in there," Servais said. "One thing Wade does is he throws strikes and he doesn't beat himself. The defense has to be on their toes because he's not going to strike out a ton of guys, but he'll be more than capable of filling in."

But in also a surprising move, the Mariners placed right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla on the disabled list and recalled right-hander Casey Lawrence.

Altavilla was listed with inflammation in his right AC joint, and Ramirez strained his right Teres Major, which is a muscle of the upper limb.

No, Ramirez didn't know what a Teres Major is, either.

"I understood triceps and biceps and that's it," Ramirez said.

He said he felt his triceps cramp during his bullpen session on Sunday. He got the MRI back on Monday.

"And that's why I stopped throwing," Ramirez said. "I played catch and everything and then I started throwing my breaking ball and I felt something. So I just stopped.

"This year is not going as good as I wanted. But at least the team is winning. I like that part."

Servais said Altavilla might not spend much time past the 10-day DL stint, though he'll be shut down from throwing for at least three days.

So that means the Mariners will roll with 13 position players – including outfielders Ben Gamel, Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Guillermo Heredia and Ichiro Suzuki, though Nelson Cruz is also technically an outfielder and utility player Andrew Romine can play each of the three outfield positions.

And they'll switch to a seven-man bullpen, in the meantime, since LeBlanc will be converted to a starter.

LeBlanc threw two scoreless innings against the Indians on Friday after allowing two runs in 4 2/3 innings in relief when he pitched the rest of the game against the White Sox after Mike Leake lasted 3 1/3 innings.

This doesn't mean the Mariners won't eventually recall left-hander Ariel Miranda from Triple-A Tacoma, like they did for one start against the Houston Astros. Ramirez opened the season on the disabled list with a strain of the latissimus dorsi muscle in his back, which he suffered early in spring training.

Ramirez said he felt great in his two starts, health-wise since he was activated from the DL on April 22.

But he averaged 91.6 mph with his fastball last season and was at 89.3 mph in his two starts this year.

"And not just the velocity, but the life on the ball hadn't really been there," Servais said.

Ramirez didn't want to pin that on the injury.

"I was trying to push as hard as I could but I could not bring it to 90 (mph)," Ramirez said. "So I don't know if that was the reason or what because when I was pitching I felt great and when I threw the ball I felt like I was throwing 92, but it wasn't like that."

And Ramirez was hit hard. In 9 2/3 innings pitched against the Rangers and Indians, he allowed 11 runs and seven home runs. He became the fourth pitcher in Mariners history to allow at least five home runs in a start when the Mariners lost, 6-5, against the Indians on Friday.

Ramirez was out of minor-league options so he couldn’t be optioned to Tacoma without being designated for assignment.

The Mariners faced some criticism when they optioned Heredia to Triple-A Tacoma on April 22 instead of designating Ichiro for assignment, despite Heredia outplaying Ichiro by just about every measure at the time. But the Mariners indicated Heredia’s stay with the Rainiers wouldn’t likely last longer than the 10-day minimum.

He was pulled after two plate appearances from the Rainiers’ game on Sunday.

Heredia was 5-for-13 (.385) with a .529 on-base percentage in six games with the Rainiers. That was after going 9-for-29 (.310) with a .417 on-base percentage and two home runs in 16 games this season with the Mariners. Heredia, who bats right and throws left, has started against left-handed pitchers.

And that was the Mariners’ original rationale behind optioning Heredia. They are scheduled to face Oakland Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea on Thursday after at least eight consecutive games against right-handed starters. The A’s starter for Wednesday’s game is to be determined.

"He'll play against left-handed pitching," Servais said. "And he'll probably be the backup in center field if we need it and Dee needs a day off."

Altavilla pitched five consecutive scoreless outings in relief until he was wild on Sunday against the Cleveland Indians, allowing two earned runs while getting just one batter out. He walked two and hit another.

Lawrence started two games for the Rainiers and had a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings pitched (three earned runs) with 11 strikeouts.

On tap

Left-hander James Paxton (1-1, 5.12 ERA) is hoping to build off his last start, when he struck out 10 batters and allowed two runs in six innings against Cleveland, though he didn't earn the win. Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin confirmed that left-hander Brett Anderson will make his first start of the year for the since being recalled from Triple-A Nashville.

The game will start at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Safeco Field and it will televise on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
Twitter: @TJCotterill