Overton will be available to pitch on Thursday night if needed.
HOUSTON — It was a statement devoid of hyperbole and earnest in its sentiment. The emotion made Dillon Overton’s voice tremble a little in trying to describe what the past few days have been like for him.
“It’s been the best week of my entire life and it will never be topped by another week in my entire life,” he said. “You can’t beat it.”
To review: Overton was notified that he made the Mariners opening day roster on Friday, was granted permission to fly home to Ennis, Texas to be with his pregnant wife, Morgan on Saturday evening, was there for the birth of his son, Oliver Ray, on Tuesday and spent all of Wednesday with family and friends celebrating the occasion.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said.
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A father for the first time, Overton admitted that the first moment of holding his son exceeded any expectations he might have held before.
“I got to spend some quality time with him,” Overton said. “We had a lot of people coming in and out in our family, but once everybody left, my wife made sure that I was taking care of him and holding him because she knew I was leaving, which was a big deal. It’s sucks have to leave him and her so soon, but this is my job. She understands it. It will all be all right.”
The Mariners officially activated Overton from the paternity list when he arrived in Houston on Thursday morning, optioning right-hander Chase De Jong back to Tacoma. Overton may have to pitch immediately with the Mariners’ bullpen taxed from Wednesday night’s 13-inning loss.
“We stretched it a bunch last night,” manager Scott Servais said. “Overton gives us a little help.”
When the Mariners gave permission to go home, they requested that he throw a bullpen session to at least stay somewhat fresh. Overton did that and more.
“I actually threw every single day I was home,” he said. “I had to find time. I threw twice in the high school parking lot. My brother in law caught me once and my father in law caught me the second time. I played catch in the offseason with them. One day I went to the high school before we went to the hospital and threw a light bullpen to one of the high school catchers there. I think I got everything in that I needed to get in.”
Several patients and staff members at the hospital had second glances at the odd sight of two grown men playing catch in a parking lot.
“There were a lot of people that didn’t really say anything, but they were just staring at me, like ‘what they heck are you doing?'” Overton said. “Let them think what they want, I had to do my work.”
De Jong will fly to Sacramento to join the Rainiers. He will likely pitch Monday for Tacoma. His MLB debut had the potential makings of a happy ending when he came in to protect a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 13th. Instead, he gave up a two-out, three-run, walk-off homer to George Springer. Servais talked with him extensively postgame about the outing as well as notifying De Jong that he was headed back to the minors as planned.
“He’s a really level-headed kid,” Servais said. “I just explained him that it doesn’t get much tougher to put him into his Major League debut like that. There are moments — every player has them good and bad — that can be defining moments in your career and you just don’t want to get caught up in that. He had never pitched out of the bullpen before so we asked a lot of him there. That wasn’t the original when we had him called up. It was more if we had an injury or a bad start but that wasn’t the case. He was very close to getting it done.”
Minor league suspensions
Two young pitchers from the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League affiliate were amongst five minor league players suspended by Major League Baseball for violations of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Right-handed pitchers Frank Encarnacion and Andy Taveras each received a 72-game suspensions without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol.
Encarnacion, 23, signed with the Mariners as a non-drafted free agent in 2014. He’s spent the last three seasons in the DSL. Last year, he was 4-3 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts and 14 relief appearances. He struck out 51 batters and walked 27 in 57 innings pitched.
Taveras, who turns 21 on April 30, was a no-drafted signee in 2015 and has pitched the last two years in the DSL. He made 15 relief appearances in 2016, posting a 1-3 record and 6.98 ERA. In 19 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out 12 and walked 14.
Only one Mariners’ player has faced Astros starter Joe Musgrove at the big league level — Danny Valencia went 0-for-4 against him with two strikeouts and a walk.
Here are the Astros numbers vs. lefty Ariel Miranda
On this day in Mariners history …
1977 – An Opening Night, record crowd of 57,762 attends the Mariners first game in franchise history, a 7-0 loss to the California Angels at the Kingdome.
1993 – On the fourth April 6 Opening Night in team history, the Mariners pull out their first win, beating Toronto, 8-1. It is the third Opening Night meeting with expansion cousin Toronto; Seattle is 3-0. Ken Griffey Jr hits a 3-run HR in the first to ignite the win and the crowd of 56,120 is the second largest all-time for Seattle. The game marks Lou Piniella’s debut as the Mariners manager.
1995 – Joey Cora re-signed with the Mariners as a free agent.
1996 – Paul Sorrento hits the first of the club’s Major League-record 11 grand slams for the season in an 8-5 win vs. Chicago.
1998 – Jamie Moyer records his fourth-career, 10-strikeout game in an 8-0 win vs. New York (7.0,3,0,0,1,11).
2000 – Rookie closer Kazuhiro Sasaki earns his first Major League save by striking out the side in a 5-2 win vs. Boston.
2001– Mark McLemore homers in his first at-bat as a starter for the Mariners in a game against Texas.
2001– Ichiro Suzuki blasts his first Major League home run to beat the Rangers, 9-7 in 10-innings. Suzuki becomes the first Mariner to hit his first homer in extra innings.
2009 – Ken Griffey Jr. hit a solo home run on Opening Day in Minnesota for his 8th career Opening Day homer, all coming in his 12 seasons with the Mariners. Also, tied Frank Robinson.
2015 – Felix Hernandez struck out 10 and allowed just 1 run and 2 hits in 7.0 innings to lead the Mariners to a 4-1 win over the Angels on Opening Day. Marked the Mariners 9th consecutive Opening Day victory to tie the American League record. RF Seth Smith went 3-for-3 with 3 extra-base hits (2B-2, 3B) and 2 RBI. LF Dustin Ackley hit his second career Opening Day home run.
Upcoming starting pitching probables