ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With their bullpen taxed heavily over the past two games and the status of Marco Gonzales’ left wrist uncertain moving forward, the Mariners made roster moves to add fresh arms to their bullpen before Thursday’s game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
- Penn Murfee, RHP, selected from Triple-A Tacoma.
- Wyatt Mills, RHP, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
- Yohan Ramirez, RHP, optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
- Cal Raleigh, C, optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.
- Evan White, INF, transferred to 60-day injured list.
“We are picking up the extra pitching based on (Wednesday) night’s game just to make sure we have coverage today,” manager Scott Servais said pregame. “We can play with our roster any way we want to up until May 2, so that’s what we are going to do.”
Gonzales exited Wednesday’s start after taking a 109-mph line drive off his left wrist after his 11th pitch. Diagnosed as a contusion, X-rays taken at the stadium were negative. He may undergo more tests on the wrist to be sure there is no fracture or structural damage, but the swelling in the wrist had decreased significantly, giving him better than expected range of motion.
“I’m cautiously optimistic based on what I thought it might be like, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed,” Servais said. “I don’t know if he’s gonna touch a ball or anything today.”
As Servais was saying that, Gonzales was out playing catch in the outfield at Tropicana Field, which included long toss and snapping off some breaking balls.
“Well, I guess that’s a good sign,” Servais said with a laugh. “I think we might have dodged a bullet there.”
With MLB rosters set to be reduced to 26 players Monday, the Mariners, who plan to have 12 position players and 14 pitchers, couldn’t logically carry three catchers. Raleigh was the logical choice to go because he has minor-league options remaining and will get everyday at-bats with the Rainiers, as well as catch at least four to five times per week. Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens will handle the catching duties.
“We certainly like the player, and we like what he brings,” Servais said of Raleigh. “He’s young. When you look back at kind of how his path has gone, he hasn’t played a ton of baseball at the upper levels. The pandemic had something to do with that, and he lost some time there.”
Raleigh played in nine games this season, posting an .083/.214/.423 slash line with two hits in 28 plate appearances, including a solo homer, four walks and nine strikeouts.
“He has made some adjustments offensively,” Servais said. “I thought he had a really good spring training. It hasn’t played out great for him to this point in the season, but it was going to be really hard for us to carry three catchers all year. I like the improvements that Torrens has made behind the plate. So we’ll play him and Murph and see where it goes there, but Cal will be back with us. He’s part of our future.”
Besides the swing adjustments, Raleigh also trimmed down this offseason to be more athletic behind the plate. He needs consistent playing time.
“I can speak from personal experience,” Servais said. “It’s almost identical to how my career started in the big leagues. I got to the big leagues at 24-years-old and was a college player drafted that spent minimal time in the minor leagues. You get to the big leagues and get a taste of it at 24. And at 25, you’re still trying to figure it out. And that’s where he’s at right now.”
Unlike Servais, who joined a rebuilding Astros team in 1991 that was willing to let him find his way regardless of results, Raleigh is playing for a team that is trying to make the postseason.
“We’ve got a couple of other guys that are maybe a little more advanced and farther along in their career,” Servais said. “Cal will be back. He needs to play. He’ll get an opportunity to play consistently down there, catching and then on days he is not catching, he can DH. You can do more with the lineup to make sure he’s getting his at-bats.”
Left-hander Roenis Elias continues to progress in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He started for Class AAA Tacoma in a bullpen outing on Wednesday in Las Vegas, pitching three innings and allowing one run on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Elias has appeared in six games, allowing one run in 9 1/3 innings with two walks and six strikeouts.