Phelps has been out since August 8 with an elbow impingement.
ATLANTA — The Mariners have gone back to an eight-man bullpen for the time being. On Wednesday, the team activated right-handed reliever David Phelps from the 10-day disabled list to bolster a bullpen that just lost right-hander Tony Zych to the DL the day before.
After facing one batter in his appearance in Kansas City on August 8, Phelps left the game with discomfort in his elbow. He was placed on the 10-day disabled list the following day with what was later diagnosed as an elbow impingement. Acquired from the Marlins days before the non-waiver trade deadline, Phelps had made seven appearances with six of them scoreless, filling an important set-up role.
Instead of shipping out another reliever out to make room for Phelps, the Mariners designated outfielder Leonys Martin for assignment, giving them an extra arm in the bullpen. That means that Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia and Mitch Haniger will serve as the full-time outfielders while Tayor Motter and Danny Valencia serve as possible back-up options until Jarrod Dyson comes off the 10-day disabled list.
“With where we are at, I thought we do need to get back to the extra pitcher in our bullpen,” manager Scott Servais said. “With the inability of a lot of our starters to go deep, we are taxing those guys. Knowing that David Phelps is back but we probably aren’t going to be able to use him in back-to-back days for a little while. We had a lot of outfielders on the roster with getting (Mitch Haniger) back.”
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Since Martin is out of minor league options, he had to be designated for assignment when taken off the 25-man roster. It’s the second time this season he’s been designated. He cleared waivers in late April and was outrighted to Class AAA Tacoma where he spent much of the season.
“You hate to send anyone down,” Servais said. “Certainly with Leonys, we love him, but that was the decision that has to be made. I think it’s best for our club now.”
Martin was hitting .230 with a .266 on-base percentage, double, a triple, three homers and eight RBI in 19 games since being selected from the Rainiers on July 30. Any team that claims Martin will have to pick up the remainder of what is owed on his contract, approximately $1 million. If he clears waivers again, the Mariners can outright him to Tacoma again. They could also look at bringing him back when rosters expand in September, but they would have to re-add him to the 40-man roster.
“If Leonys doesn’t get claimed or whatever, he could be back with us in September,” Servais said.
With the roster expansion looming, 40-man roster spots are vital. The Mariners will likely add catcher Mike Marjama to their 40-man to bring him up to have a third catcher available. If reliever Shae Simmons were to be healthy enough to be brought back, he would also need to be activated from the 60-day disabled list and put on the 40-man roster.