Even before Tuesday’s 15-inning marathon, manager Scott Servais acknowledged it was a matter of time before the Mariners returned to a seven-man bullpen.
Servais also strongly hinted the odd-man out was likely to be outfielder Guillermo Heredia — despite Heredia’s plus skills in several areas.
"I love what Heredia has brought to our team," Servais said. "The flexibility to play defense late and to start against left-handed pitching. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to carry that. It’s a luxury item.
"Eventually, you do need to have the depth on your bullpen. As long as our starters keep going deep, we’re OK. But, eventually, we probably will need to go back to 12 pitchers."
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Eventually arrived Wednesday, one day after the Mariners burned through their entire bullpen before pulling out a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The Mariners optioned Heredia to Triple-A Tacoma in order to select the contract of right-hander Jarrett Grube from the Rainiers. Grube was scratched earlier Wednesday from a scheduled start against Sacramento (Giants) at Cheney Stadium.
To clear space for Grube, 34, on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated utility infielder Luis Sardinas for assignment.
Heredia, 25, was 7-for-25 (.280 with a .379 on-base percentage) in 12 games following his July 29 recall from Tacoma. He batted a combined .309 with a .399 OBP in 84 games at Tacoma and Double-A Jackson prior to his recall.
"I think he’s a major-league player now," Servais said. "He plays into our future, and he’ll be back here at some point."
The Mariners signed Heredia, a Cuban defector, on March 1.
Grube was 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 10 games, including eight starts, at Tacoma. He signed a minor-league deal June 9 with the Mariners, one day after being released by Cleveland after going 0-3 with a 4.43 ERA at Triple-A Columbus.
"He was the guy who was available," Servais said. "It was his day to start in Tacoma today. He’s the freshest arm, and we certainly need some help tonight if this game gets crazy at all."
That suggests Grube’s time with the Mariners might be limited. He is not viewed as a rotation candidate, and the Mariners are likely to make another move prior to Friday to add a starting pitcher.
Grube realizes this, too. His only previous big-league experience occurred in a similar situation: in 2014 for the Los Angeles Angels, when he gave up one run in two-thirds of an inning at Oakland.
"It’s a great feeling (to be back in the big leagues)," he said, "but it’s not really about me today. It’s more (a matter) of coming up here and trying to help the team by providing some coverage."
Grube is 71-58 in 13 minor-league seasons with a 4.36 ERA in 371 games, including 156 starts.
Sardinas, 23, became expendable after the Mariners acquired utilityman Mike Freeman in an Aug. 1 waiver claim from Arizona. Sardinas batted .181 in 32 big-league games and .252 in 43 games at Tacoma.
"With what Freeman brings and, really, the emergence of Shawn O’Malley," Servais said, "it created a different scenario. Shawn handled shortstop pretty well."
The Mariners have 10 days to trade, release or (if he clears waivers) send Sardinas to the minors on an outright assignment. The Mariners acquired him from Milwaukee in an Nov. 20, 2015 trade for outfielder Ramon Flores.
SURGERY FOR FURBUSH
The already-long comeback road for lefty reliever Charlie Furbush just got a lot lot longer: 12-18 months longer.
Furbush, 30, will undergo surgery Tuesday to repair a partially torn rotator cuff after spending the last 13 months in a rest-and-rehab approach.
"For me," he said, "a realistic goal is spring training of 2018. Anything earlier than that, I’m onboard."
Furbush made eight appearances last month in a rehab assignment at Short-A Everett and Tacoma. After a rough first outing, he allowed just one earned run over 5 2/3 innings in seven games.
But Furbush continued to need extra recovery time after pitching.
"I just had some achiness in there," he said. "I still had range of motion and strength in there. They thought it would be good to have an MRI done. It still revealed the same tear I had last year.
"We decided it would be best to forward and just get it fixed."
Furbush hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since July 7, 2015. He was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA last season in 33 games prior to going on the disabled list. He is 13-24 with 3.97 ERA overall in 247 games over his five-year career.
Dr. Edward Khalfayan, the club’s medical director, will perform the surgery.
"It is what it is," Furbush said. "I knew the whole time going in that the rehab was going to work or it wasn’t. I just kept it as simple as that. I tried to work as hard as I could. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out.
"But part of me is excited to get this done because I know, now, it’s the real road to recovery."
Lefty starter James Paxton reports the "swelling is just about gone" from his elbow after being hit Sunday by a line drive in the ninth inning of a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Paxton expected to make some soft throws Wednesday in the indoor cages and play catch on Thursday. If all goes well, he could take part in a bullpen session this weekend and be ready to return early next week to the rotation.
The Mariners are the only American League club to have three players with at least 20 home runs and 70 RBIs: Robinson Cano (24 homers, 70 RBIs), Nelson Cruz (27 and 71) and Kyle Seager (21 and 72).
Colorado is the only National League club with such a trio: Nolan Arenado (30 and 91), Carlos Gonzalez (23 and 76) and Trevor Story (27 and 72).
Lo-A Clinton’s magical turnaround season continued Tuesday when four pitchers combined on a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Beloit (Athletics). That came one night after LumberKings’ pitchers struck out 17 Beloit players in a 7-2 victory.
""It was pretty crazy," Matt Walker told MiLB.com after completing the gem by pitching the ninth inning for his eighth save. "That was the most pressure I’ve felt in a long time.
"I tried not to look at the scoreboard, but it was pretty tough. Everybody just came in and did their job, and I felt a little bit of pressure trying to finish the job for those guys."
Pedro Vasquez and Joey Strain each pitched three innings before Lukas Schiraldi worked the seventh and eighth innings. Strain got the victory.
Clinton improved to 70-45, which leads all clubs in the Western Division of the Midwest League. The LumberKings finished 46-93 in 2015.
It was 22 years ago Thursday — Aug. 11, 1994 — that the Mariners did something unprecedented since 1903: They won the final game of the year without winning the World Series.
Randy Johnson capped an 8-1 victory at Oakland by striking out Eric Young. It was the final game of the day and the final game of the season. The players went out on strike the next day in a labor dispute that canceled the rest of the season.
How rare was Tuesday’s 6-5 victory over Detroit in 15 innings? According to Stats, Inc., it marked the first time in the Mariners’ 40-year history that they rallied to win after trailing after seven innings and in extra innings in a game lasting more than 12 innings…Stats, Inc., also reported Kyle Seager, on Tuesday, became the first player in franchise history to drive in the tying on two occasions in the eighth inning or later. Seager had a three-run homer in the eighth inning, which erased a 4-1 deficit, and a game-tying RBI single in the two-run 15th inning…Tuesday’s game also marked only the 20th time in franchise history that the bullpen worked 10 or more innings.
The Mariners have an open date Thursday — their only open date between July 28 and Sept. 1 — before opening a six-game trip Friday with the first of three weekend games at Oakland.
Rookie left-hander Ariel Miranda (1-0 with a 6.00 ERA) had been scheduled to start Friday against Athletics rookie lefty Sean Manaea (3-7, 4.58).
Miranda’s status is uncertain after throwing 17 pitches in Tuesday’s 15-inning victory. Club officials are exploring other options. One possibility is right-hander Joe Wieland, who started last Saturday for Tacoma.
Friday’s game starts at 7:05 p.m. and can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners