The closer, out with right biceps tendinitis, can return Saturday. David Aardsma will serve as closer in the meantime.
Brandon Morrow didn’t go easy. Late Friday night, after the Mariners’ walkoff win against Oakland, their closer was pleading to manager Don Wakamatsu that he was ready to pitch again.
“I think I’m fine,” Morrow said Saturday. “I think I’m ready to pitch. But they argued otherwise, and eventually won that argument.”
Early Saturday, the Mariners placed Morrow on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 24, with right biceps tendinitis. Wakamatsu, who called the move “proactive,” said David Aardsma will close until Morrow returns, which will be next Saturday at the earliest.
“That was the best move for Brandon, and also for the club,” Wakamatsu said. “We think it’s better to be proactive.”
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Yet the move still left Morrow, who said he has no pain in his shoulder, frustrated as he has not pitched since April 23, when he saved a 1-0 victory against Tampa Bay. He reported shoulder stiffness April 25, but he said he had been told he was available for the past week, including Friday night. So when he was not called upon in the top of the ninth inning in a tie game — customarily when a closer would be asked to preserve the tie — he wanted to know why.
“They weren’t sure that if they did put me out to pitch, that I wouldn’t just re-hurt it or something,” Morrow said.
Morrow pointed out that he had a similar shoulder problem last year, in early June, and returned after four days to go 12 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. But he summed up the Mariners’ argument in one word: “Safety.”
As Morrow spoke sullenly Saturday afternoon, reliever Denny Stark could not hide his delight.
“This is definitely one of the greatest days of my life,” Stark said. “I’m fighting the emotions right now.”
Stark was called up from AAA Tacoma on Saturday to replace Morrow, returning to the major leagues for the first time since 2004, and after he had two Tommy John surgeries.
Stark, 34, returned for the Mariners’ clubhouse for the first time since 2001, when he made four appearances and three starts.
• The Mariners signed right-handed pitcher Steven Shell to a minor-league contract. Shell will report to AAA Tacoma. Shell, 26, made the Washington Nationals’ opening-day roster and made four appearances out of the Nationals bullpen (0-0, 5.40).
• Saturday’s Pacific Coast League game between the Tacoma Rainiers and Fresno Grizzlies was postponed due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in Tacoma on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Tom Wyrwich: 206-515-5653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For the record
vs. AL West: 8-3
vs. L.A.: 4-2
vs. Oakland: 4-1
vs. Texas: 0-0
vs. AL East: 2-1
vs. AL Cent.: 4-6
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 6-1
vs. RHP: 8-9
Extra inn.: 1-0
Saturday’s crowd: 29,484
Season total: 290,183
Biggest crowd: 45,958 (April 14)
Smallest crowd: 16,476 (April 22)
Average (11 dates): 26,380
2008 average (11 dates): 24,792