J.J. Putz said he felt like he had been stabbed by an ice pick in the ninth inning Tuesday on his third pitch to Texas' Michael Young. Whether losing the All-Star closer...
J.J. Putz said he felt like he had been stabbed by an ice pick in the ninth inning Tuesday on his third pitch to Texas’ Michael Young.
Whether losing the All-Star closer for an indefinite period of time proves as painful to the Mariners’ playoff hopes will play out over the upcoming days and weeks.
The early emotion of the Mariners after Putz went on the 15-day disabled list with his rib injury was, surprisingly, relief. Putz’s diagnosis — mild costochondritis on his right side — was characterized as encouraging.
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Costochondritis is inflammation where cartilage attaches to a rib — in Putz’s case, his 10th rib. The inflammation was described as mild by the doctor who read Putz’s MRI on Wednesday.
“We’re very happy it’s not an oblique or soft tissue injury, because those take a long time,” Mariners trainer Rick Griffin said. “The fact he categorized this as a mild injury is the best news we could probably have got.”
Griffin declined to put a timetable on Putz’s return.
“We don’t guess,” he said. “J.J. is going to rest for a little while. We’re going to quiet it down, and then he’ll start doing exercises and progress to throwing, and we’ll make sure he’s ready to go. But we’re not going to say it’s going to be a certain number of days.”
McLaren said he told Putz not to rush his return.
“I said, ‘Make sure you’re right.’ He’s got confidence in the bullpen like I do,” McLaren said. “We know they’re not J.J. Let’s be honest about it. But we have very competent people out there. I know we’ll rally around J.J. and pull together until he gets back.”
Putz said the diagnosis was “the best of the bad news.” McLaren was just as relieved.
“I actually feel better today than I did last night,” McLaren said. “I didn’t sleep one minute last night. It wasn’t just the game [a 5-4 Seattle loss]. Just the thought of what it could have been with J.J.
“We were unsure. Whenever you go in that area right there, it could be serious problems. When we got the news today, we feel very positive.”
McLaren said that no replacement closer would be designated. Rather, the team will go with a “closer by committee” system until Putz’s return.
“We just have to pull together, get the committee signed up,” McLaren said. “We’re going to go out there and do it as bullpen — mix and match.”
The primary ninth-inning men figure to be Eric O’Flaherty, Mark Lowe and Sean Green. McLaren said if one of those pitchers shows he can handle the closing job, he would be inclined to stick with him.
“We’ll see if someone gets hot, and we’ll run with it,” he said. “We’ll try everything. Opportunity has been big for people over the years. Some people are going to have an opportunity.”
Putz was understandably glum on Wednesday. Asked if he was bummed out, he nodded his head slowly and said, “That’s a pretty safe comment.”
Despite the pain he felt on the pitch to Young, Putz said he thought he could finish the inning. He went on to strike out Young but allowed a two-run home run to the next hitter, Josh Hamilton. That ensured his first blown save since Aug. 1 of last season.
Putz told Griffin of his discomfort after the game, and the decision was made to schedule an MRI on Wednesday.
“When I heard what it was, it was encouraging,” Putz said of the diagnosis. “How do I say this? It was the best of the bad news. I knew pretty much last night I was going to miss some time because of how sore it was. It was just important to figure out what it was so we could treat it.”
Corcoran gets the call
Putz’s roster spot was filled by 27-year-old right-hander Roy Corcoran, called up from Class AAA Tacoma.
Corcoran, who comes from the small (pop. 1,100) town of Slaughter, La., and has the drawl to prove it, said he was perusing the Internet when he got the call.
If you must know, he was on tractorhouse.com, which sells new and used farm equipment. His focus changed when Tacoma manager Daren Brown called with the news he was headed for the majors.
“Of course, I was excited, but I really didn’t know what happened,” he said. “When I found out what happened to J.J., it’s unfortunate. No one wanted to see that happen, especially with the high hopes this year. But they called me up here to do a job, so I ‘m going to do it.”
Corcoran, 27, has brief major-league experience with Montreal/Washington.
In 16 games in 2003, ’04 and ’06, he had a 5.89 earned-run average. Corcoran’s older brother, Tim, pitched the past three seasons with Tampa Bay and now is in the Florida Marlins’ organization.
Tim, recovering from elbow surgery, “was fired up” about his brother’s promotion, Roy said.
“He sent me a text message that he had caught a 10-pound bass. I called him and told him what happened. He said, ‘Man, this day can’t get any better.’ ”
For the record
vs. AL West: 2-1
vs. L.A.: 0-0
vs. Oakland: 0-0
vs. Texas: 2-1
vs. AL East: 0-0
vs. AL Central: 0-0
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 0-0
vs. RHP: 2-1
Extra innings: 0-0
Wednesday’s crowd: 21,349
Season total: 92,887
Biggest crowd: 46,334 (Monday)
Smallest crowd: 21,349 (Wednesday)
Average (3 dates): 30,962
2007 average (3 dates): 31,373