ARLINGTON, Texas — The tantalizing power that right-hander Edwin Diaz potentially lends to the Mariners’ bullpen finally proved too much to resist.
The Mariners promoted Diaz, 22, directly from Double-A Jackson prior to Saturday’s game against the Texas Rangers after clearing space by optioning right-hander Cody Martin back to Triple-A Tacoma.
Manager Scott Servais indicated Diaz, who will wear No. 39, will likely be used initially in low-leverage situations as an acclimation to the big leagues.
“Probably much like we did with Mike Montgomery making the transition from starter to reliever,” Servais said. “We’re not going to overdo it. But he’s started. He can go length. Obviously, with the stuff he’s got, he can go shorter bursts for us.
“We’ll ease him in.”
Diaz is generally regarded as the organization’s most advanced pitching prospect, which prompted the Mariners to shift him to the bullpen on May 10 in hopes of accelerating his development.
“They told me (by changing to a reliever) I can be in the big leagues quick,” he said. “The first time I came out the bullpen, I was a little excited, but I got the three outs. Then I started to think more like a reliever.”
Results exceeded all expectations.
Diaz allowed one unearned run and just three hits in 11 2/3 innings at Jackson over 10 appearances. He also struck out 16 and walked just two.
“I go more with a fastball and slider,” Diaz said. “As a starter, I need to throw more change-ups. As a reliever, I want to attack the hitter. I want to command my fastball, and then let’s see what happens.”
Reports say his fastball ticked up from the low 90-mph range as a starter to the mid-to-upper 90s but that his slider remains a work in progress. One scout said, “Too often, it still just spins up there.”
The Mariners needed a fresh arm after taxing their bullpen in recent days because of a series of poor performances from their rotation, but that simply accelerated the decision to promote Diaz by a few days.
Martin, 26, returns to the Rainiers after pitching in both games since arriving Thursday to replace veteran Joel Peralta, who was designated for assignment.
While Martin gave up just one run in four innings, he pitched three innings Friday and was likely unavailable through the rest of the weekend.
“He showed well,” Servais said. “He put himself in a good spot to get an opportunity to come back here. Our front office, we’re not always looking for the guys who throw 97-98 (mph). There are different ways to build a bullpen.”
Even so, promoting Diaz adds a power element missing from the Mariners’ bullpen since right-hander Tony Zych went to the disabled list after a May 1 appearance against Kansas City because of tendinitis in his right rotator cuff.
Plans call for Zych to begin throwing next week from a mound, but he seems unlikely to be ready for active duty before late June.
“I didn’t get to see (Diaz) in spring training,” Servais said, “but the people who have been around him in the minor leagues are really high on him. I’m anxious to see how it plays out here.
“We need help. He’s a young player with an electric arm and a lot of upside.”
The Mariners selected Diaz in the third round of the 2012 draft. He progressed steadily through the system as a starting pitcher and entered this season ranked No. 6 on the TNT Top 10 list of the organization’s prospects.
When Diaz learned of his promotion, he did what nearly all players do.
“I called my family right away in Puerto Rico,” he said. “They wanted to be here, and they are here right now (for Saturday’s game).”
MORE MOVES COMING
The Mariners figure to make two more roster moves over the next week to accommodate the return of shortstop Ketel Marte and center fielder Leonys Martin from the disabled list.
Marte was expected to complete his rehab assignment for a sprained left thumb Saturday for Triple-A Tacoma at Las Vegas (Mets) and rejoin the Mariners prior to Monday’s game against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field.
Martin experienced no problems Saturday in running drills to test his strained left hamstring. He is likely to head next week to Tacoma for a brief rehab assignment before rejoining the Mariners prior to their June 10 game against Texas.
That means two guys must go.
Barring injuries to other players, outfielder Stefen Romero is likely to be optioned back to Tacoma. He was recalled when the Mariners put Martin on the disabled list.
The other move is likely to be another choice between Shawn O’Malley and Luis Sardinas as the roster’s utility player. Sardinas opened the season in the big leagues, but the Mariners swapped him for O’Malley in mid-May.
IN THE CLUTCH
Kyle Seager entered Saturday’s game with a streak of six consecutive hits when batting with runners in scoring position. That was the longest current streak in the majors and tied for the second-longest streak in franchise history.
Bruce Bochte had seven consecutive hits with runners in scoring position in May 1979. Tom Paciorek and Harold Reynolds also has streaks of six hits in a row with runners in scoring position.
Low-A Clinton right-hander Nick Neidert produced a third consecutive strong start Friday by allowing just one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings in a 4-2 victory at Beloit (Athletics).
Neidert, 19, is 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in three starts for the LumberKings since his promotion from extended spring training. He was the Mariners’ first pick (No. 60 overall) in the 2015 draft.
It was 18 years ago Sunday — June 5, 1998 — that the Mariners played their first interleague game and got a combined shutout from Bill Swift, Mike Timlin and Heathcliff Slocumb in a 4-0 victory over the Dodgers at the Kingdome.
Swift scattered nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. Dan Wilson drove in two of the four runs.
The Mariners are 184-167 in interleague play, including 6-1 this season with 13 games remaining.
Manager Scott Servais turned 49 years old on Saturday. When he was born, his beloved Green Bay Packers were the reigning NFL champions as the winner in Super Bowl I. ... The Rangers recalled ex-Mariners reliever Tom Wilhelmsen from Triple-A Round Rock as part of a series of pregame moves. They also activated second baseman Rougned Odor from the suspended list. ... The Mariners’ 112 runs with two outs, through Friday, ranked second in the majors. Boston had 115.
The Mariners and Rangers conclude their three-game weekend series at 12:05 p.m. (PDT) Sunday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (4-4, 4.41 ERA) will face Texas lefty Derek Holland (4-4, 4.78). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710-AM.
Seattle plays a four-game home series against Cleveland beginning Monday before playing Texas again in a three-game series next weekend at Safeco Field.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners