J.J. Putz can remember the last time he felt comepletely healthy this season – opening day.
What he's not as certain of is when he'll be that way again, and in the interim, the Seattle Mariners will scramble their late-inning relief group yet again.
"I've never been on the disabled list in my life, now I've been on it twice this year," said Putz, who was place on the 15-day DL with inflammation in his right elbow. "First it was my rib cage, then I tore the fingernail off a finger, now this."
When Putz went down in April, the Mariners tried closing by committee, giving everyone from Mark Lowe to Eric O'Flaherty to Sean Green save opportunities.
Now, manager John McLaren will use either Brandon Morrow or veteran Miguel Batista, who's been moved from the starting rotation for at least two starts. Batista has closed games before.
So has Morrow – once.
"I got thrown into it (Wednesday) when J.J. had to leave the game, so I didn't a half inning to sit and think about it," Morrow said. "That was probably best for the first time. The ninth inning definitely has a different feel to it."
Putz, who learned from teammate Eddie Guardado, was asked if he had any advice for Morrow – a right-hander in his second big-league season who has hit 100 mph on the radar gun this year.
"Yes, don't change a thing," Putz said.
Morrow admits it's all a bit new to him.
"If you'd asked me on draft day what my future was, I'd have said in the minor leagues as a starting pitcher, working my way up through the system," Morrow said. "Now I'm a closer? No, that never would have crossed my mind."
So what's his plan for save situations?
"I don't want to run in from the bullpen, get out of breath," he said. "I want to keep my heart rate down, just throw strikes."
As for Putz, his immediate future is even less certain. He won't throw until Monday, then be re-evaluated by team doctors who'll come up with a plan.
"I rushed back the first time, because I couldn't stand not pitching," Putz said. "When you're on the 15-day DL, you don't want to take more than 15 days. This time, I'll try to do what they say."
McLaren has one goal with Putz – to get him back at his best.
"Last year, J.J. spoiled everyone by being automatic," McLaren said. "No one has been more frustrated this season than J.J. He's been hurt. The priority now is to get him back 100 per cent healthy, whatever it takes."