Lefty Dillon Overton was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma where he'll go back to starting. The Mariners also made a small trade.
The Mariners continue to move some pieces around in their bullpen in an effort to find consistency and shutdown innings. On Friday, the club activated right-hander Tony Zych from the disabled list and optioned lefty Dillon Overton to Class AAA Tacoma.
“Tony is healthy and he’s excited to get back,” manager Scott Servais said. “He looks great and the ball is coming out of his hand really good.”
With rain either interrupting, delaying or canceling his scheduled rehab outings with the Rainiers, the Mariners had Zych throw a simulated game on Wednesday afternoon at Safeco Field to get his work in. It also allowed the staff to watch him in person to see if he was ready to come back from the disabled list.
“I’ve been keeping myself in good shape and I feel like the (simulated game) really helped,” Zych said. “It was outstanding. I think just being able to get into the park and having that little extra adrenaline of being here really helped me finish my pitches. I felt really good.”
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Zych underwent offseason surgery to transfer his biceps tendon on his shoulder. After dealing with a nagging pinching sensation in the front of his shoulder when he would throw a year ago, he’s now pain free.
“It feels really good,” he said. “It feels strong. I’ve been working it really hard since the surgery.”
He also reworked his mechanics and delivery in an effort to protect the arm and also find some more consistent late movement.
“It feels great, the ball is moving late and I feel like it has even more life,” he said.
The Mariners noticed the differences in spring. They debated putting him on the opening day roster, but chose to let him get some outings in on a rehab stint first.
“Over the course of going through his rehab and getting back on the mound, he’s made a few adjustments mechanically that he feels really good about,” Servais said. “I do as well. I think his ability to throw strikes and work his stuff at the bottom of the strikezone will be a nice benefit for us.”
Overton will go to Tacoma and get stretched out as a starter and pitch in the Rainier’s rotation.
“I thought it was best for him to put him back in that role and get him stretched out,” Servais said. “It was a tough spot to put him in. He had never really relieved that much. But we carried him because we weren’t quite sure where our starters were at coming out of spring training. We wanted to make sure we had enough length in there. But guys on our starting staff have thrown the ball pretty well. Now it was time to make a move.”
Zych brings another power arm to the bullpen to go with Dan Altavilla, Edwin Diaz and even Evan Marshall. He has a mid 90s fastball that can up in the high 90s with a nasty slider. Zych will be used in middle relief.
“We’ve struggled in the middle of the game, especially recently, when we need someone to come in there and get a tough right-handed hitter out in a tough spot or letting him run through three or four hitters in the sixth or seventh inning,” Servais said. “It’s kind of how I see using him.”
The Mariners will continue to carry the eight-man bullpen for the time being.
“We’ll see,” Servais said. “There’s no date set where we will flip this guy out or that guy out. We’ll continue to look at what’s best for our club and get it going. Everybody has had their good outings and everybody has kind of struggled a little bit. We are still trying to sort through who the go-to guys are, so to speak. But they are all going to play important roles. You don’t go through a year without guys pitching big innings –middle, late or whatever it is. For right now, we are going to stick with what we got.”
The Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Paul Fry to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Baltimore’s International signing slot No. 105. Fry was designated for assignment by the team on April 11 to make room on the 40-man roster for infielder Mike Freeman. In five minor league seasons, he’s posted a 13-14 record with a 2.89 ERA, working almost extensively as a reliever. Fry was a 17th round pick in the 2013 draft out of St. Clair Community College in Port Huron, Mich.
The exact dollar figure of the signing slot that the Mariners acquired has yet to be determined.
Guillermo Heredia got the start in left field on Friday night with the Rangers starting left-hander Martin Perez. Jarrod Dyson moved over to center field, while the slumping Leonys Martin was on the bench. This isn’t a one-time situation. Heredia will likely start against left-handed starters going forward.
“He had an outstanding spring training,” Servais said. “The one thing that Guillermo has done really well is he controls the strike zone and makes the guy work. He can bunt, he can run a little bit and we certainly saw an improved swing, approach and driving the ball a little more consistently in spring training. Hopefully that carries over here. We got some left-handers coming up, so he’ll get some time. “
Servais said right-hander Steve Cishek (offseason hip surgery) will begin his rehab stint in three or four days. Cishek will need to make three to four outings before returning. Cishek’s destination for the rehab outings could be weather determinant.
Starting pitchers vs. hitters numbers
Mariners numbers vs. Martin Perez
Rangers numbers vs. Felix Hernandez
The Rangers have announced that Andrew Cashner will start on Saturday.