Tacoma Rainiers

Finally healthy, side-armer Aaron Northcraft bolsters Tacoma Rainiers bullpen

Aaron Northcraft’s first season in the Mariners organization had to take a brief pause, but now the right-handed side-armer is back to help the Tacoma Rainiers ride into the All-Star Break.

Northcraft, who went on the injury list on May 19 — a month after getting called up from Double-A Arkansas — made his return to Tacoma on Saturday against Salt Lake.

“I felt great,” Northcraft said. “I feel fresh. I had quite a bit of adrenaline, just because I hadn’t pitched in awhile. But everything was good. I just wanted to attack and get quick outs.”

On his way back from injury, Northcraft was officially sent to short-season Single-A Everett on June 22. He made one appearance for the AquaSox on June 27 before making the drive south to Tacoma.

Northcraft came entered Saturday’s game in the seventh inning, after the Bees had put runs on the board in five of the first six frames. Trying to keep everything simple in his first outing at Cheney Stadium in well over a month, he retired all six batters he faced.

“With me, I just worry about my timing,” Northcraft said. “And then I attack guys. That’s my main thing, I just make them on the defensive. That’s where I succeed, going after guys. As long as I have my timing down and am able to throw strikes, I’m funky and they don’t like hitting against me.”

Northcraft only jumped out ahead 0-1 on one of the batters he faced Saturday, but came back with either a strike or a ball in play in each of the other five. None of the batters survived to face more than three pitches.

After taking two years away from baseball, Northcraft signed with the Mariners organization in January, and was sent to Arkansas. He spent just three outings in the Texas League before getting the call to Tacoma, where he has compiled a 2.25 ERA in 14 appearances.