The Mariners made a roster move, recalling right-handed pitcher Cody Martin from Class AAA Tacoma and designating veteran right-handed pitcher Joel Peralta for assignment. Peralta had struggled in his last 10 appearances, giving up 10 runs and five homers.
SAN DIEGO — It was a move that needed to happen. The feel-good story of Joel Peralta pitching for the Mariners at age 40 just wasn’t trending toward a happy ending. And the Mariners did something about it.
On Thursday afternoon, the team announced that Peralta had been designated for assignment and right-hander Cody Martin was recalled from Class AAA Tacoma.
The baseball thinking behind the move was logical, but the emotion made it difficult for manager Scott Servais.
“It’s been a rough day,” he said. “Sitting down with Joel and talking with him, a guy that’s meant so much to myself personally. First-time manager, you go into spring training and you are trying to get the ball rolling on a number of different things on your environment and culture and Joel was really at the forefront, one of the leaders of it. He was a big proponent of what I was trying to put in play and helped sending the message throughout the clubhouse.”
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Servais met with Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Benoit and Chris Iannetta — the veteran leaders on the team — after the move was made. Peralta was popular and considered a leader in that group.
“It’s a teammate and it’s like a brother and I’m very sensitive to that,” Servais said. “From a respect factor, I know what that leadership groups means to our clubhouse and our team on the field. In talking with those guys and trying to get those guys to understand, they are never totally going to understand it. And I get that. I was player at one point too. But hopefully they understand that it’s a business and we are in a good spot in the fact that we think we have a chance to win here.”
Peralta simply wasn’t effective any more and saw his role within the Mariners’ bullpen diminished to mop up time. He gave up a two-run homer to Alexei Ramirez — the first batter he faced in Wednesday night’s loss – and also gave up another run.
In his last 10 outings, Peralta had pitched nine innings, giving up 10 runs on 16 hits, including five homers. He made 26 relief appearances this season, going 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings pitched with seven homers allowed.
“The results hadn’t been there, obviously, for probably the last month,” Servais said. “He really struggled. Organizationally, we just decided to make a change.
Despite being right-handed, Peralta’s strength was actually against left-handed hitters in one-inning apperances. And with Mike Montgomery and Vidal Nuno pitching so well, Peralta didn’t have a role. The struggles made it more magnified.
He signed as a non-roster invite free agent in the offseason and pitched his way onto the opening day roster, aided by injuries to right-handers Ryan Cook and Evan Scribner.
With the Mariners’ in need of a fresh arm that could provide some length, Peralta was expendable.
“He gives us a guy that can go multiple innings if we need it,” Servais said.
Martin is in San Diego and is available to pitch tonight for the Mariners. He will serve as the long relief man for the Mariners with Steve Johnson bumping up to more a set-up role. He has pitched in both aspects for the Rainiers, starting eight games and pitching in relief in four. He’s 5-3 with a 5.67 ER. In 46 innings, he’s struck out 45 batters and walked 25. Over his last five appearances, which includes one start, he is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA.
“I’m ready for anything,” Martin said. “It’s been good. I don’t think the numbers don’t tell the whole story. My first month was good at the beginning and tough in the middle and then I finished strong and I’ve had a good month of May. I’ve kind of figured some things out. It was some mechanical stuff that I got away wit after my first two or three starts. I just started doing things I don’t normally do. And when you walk guys, you give up runs. That was ultimately what happened.”
A standout at Gonzaga, Martin was a seventh-round pick by the Braves in 2011. He’s pitched in 25 big league games with the Braves and A’s, compiling a 2-5 record with a 7.92 ERA.
Martin’s splits with Tacoma: