Seattle Mariners

Mariners notebook: When does rest become rust for relievers? McClendon says after four days

Four days.

That’s the maximum rest that Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon wants for his relievers in general but for veteran closer Fernando Rodney in particular.

That explains why Rodney got the call Monday night with the Mariners trailing Philadelphia by three runs in the eighth inning.

“Command can become an issue with him from time to time,” McClendon said. “If he’s not out there on a regular basis ... you ask him to close a game out after five days, and it could become an issue.”

McClendon cited four days of rest as a preferred maximum with all relievers.

“I like to see that guys have had three days (of rest),” he said. “That means they’re really fresh and ready to go. But when you start getting to four days, then rust comes into play.”

Surprisingly, perhaps, McClendon said finding sufficient work for eight relievers hasn’t been a problem despite strong work from the rotation. (Only three American League clubs have more innings from their starters.)

“It’s actually worked out pretty well,” he said. “Because we’ve got the eight-man (bullpen) out there, we can give guys days off and get them back on track.”

McClendon has also become an advocate of an eight-man bullpen, which is one reliever more than most clubs carry.

“Listen, it’s the identity of this ballclub,” he said. “It’s our foundation. The sum are greater than the parts. I just don’t see tinkering with it.”

The Mariners entered Tuesday with a 2.43 bullpen ERA. Oakland ranked second among American League clubs at 2.83.

INTEREST IN CASTILLO

Reports suggest free-agent outfielder Rusney Castillo, a defector from Cuba, has narrowed his choices to six clubs, including the Mariners.

Castillo, 27, is also attracting interest from the Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs and Yankees, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He conducted private workouts for all six teams.

Bidding is expected to be intense. Castillo is believed to be seeking a five-year contract for $65 million. He is represented by the Roc Nation Sports, which landed Robinson Cano’s 10-year deal for $240 million with the Mariners.

A decision is expected soon — in part because players must be on a major league roster by Sept. 1 in order to be eligible for the postseason. It’s expected Castillo would require at least a few days in the minors as a tune-up.

FIRST-BASE SHUFFLE

Logan Morrison shifted from right field to first base when McClendon opted to sit designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who started Monday at first base.

Morales is expected to be back at first base for Wednesday’s series finale. Morrison will likely get the day off.

“My thought process was to make sure I played those guys two out of three (games against the Phillies),” McClendon said, “and this does it for me. It also gets (Morales) off his feet a little bit.

“I didn’t want him to play back-to-back games at first base (at this point) because that’s kind of tough after not having done it all year.”

Both players have shown improved production recently at the plate.

Morrison is batting .322 over his past 17 games, while Morales is 7-for-21 in his past six games with two homers.

FIXING THE WHEELS

First-base coach Andy Van Slyke, who remains on restricted duty, received an injection for his ailing right knee and is scheduled to get another one Monday when the Mariners return home.

“It’s like putting new treads on old tires,” Van Slyke said. “I probably need new tires, but I’m not ready for that yet.”

Van Slyke suffered the injury Aug. 7 while throwing early batting practice in the indoor cages. Infield coach Chris Woodward is serving as first-base coach until Van Slyke is ready to return.

LOOKING BACK

It was 24 years ago Wednesday — Aug. 21, 1990 — that first baseman Tino Martinez made his major league debut with Seattle in a 6-5 loss at Texas.

Martinez grounded a single to right field in his first at-bat, which came in the second inning against Rangers righty Bobby Witt. Martinez finished 2-for-4.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Phillies conclude their three-game series at 10:05 a.m. Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.

Seattle rookie left-hander James Paxton (3-0, 2.20 ERA) will oppose Philly lefty Cole Hamels (6-6, 2.44). Root Sports will broadcast the game.

The Mariners open a three-game series in Boston on Friday.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

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