Amid the mess that the Mariners are right now comes a reminder that the big leagues are still the place where dreams come true.
Right-hander Ryne Harper completed a long-shot journey to the majors Sunday when promoted by the Mariners from Triple-A Tacoma prior to their series finale against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Harper, 28, began the season so far off the radar that he wasn’t on the big-league camp roster in spring training and, further, didn’t even get into a Cactus League game as a one-day promotion from minor-league camp.
But here he is. In the big leagues. At Fenway Park.
"Oh, my gosh," he said. "It means a lot. From day one, the goal I had in mind was to get here. To actually do it, I don’t know if it’s actually hit me yet. It’s been a big blur the last two days.
"I had this goal in mind and, no matter where I was, just do the same thing every day and keep a good mentality. I made it, and it feels good."
Harper is a curveball specialist who went 2-0 with three saves and a 1.89 ERA in 15 games at Tacoma. He replaced right-hander Rob Whalen, who was optioned back to Tacoma after pitching 5 1/3 innings in Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the Red Sox.
"I can honestly say I’ve never seen Ryne Harper pitch," manager Scott Servais said, "but it won’t be the first time this year. We’ve had a few of those."
If Harper gets into a game, he will become the 44th player and 28th pitcher used by the Mariners since opening day. Both are the highest totals for any club since at least the 2000 season.
Harper was a 37th-round pick by Atlanta in 2011 whom the Mariners acquired in a trade after the 2015 season for right-handed reliever Jose Ramirez.
"My curveball has always been my pitch," Harper said. "My curveball is better when my fastball is good, but my curveball has always been the pitch I work off of. I feel really comfortable throwing it in any situation."
James Paxton’s anticipated return from the disabled list effectively knocked Whalen out of the rotation. The need to clear space Wednesday on the 25-man roster for Paxton could also result in a short stay for Harper.
But for now, Harper is in the big leagues.
"I’m trying to keep it like every day," he said. "Go through my same routine. Play catch the same. Throw to the catcher the same way. But it’s pretty cool to be in this place, with all of the history, for the first time.
"It’s definitely a great spot to be called up to."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners