Emilio Pagan was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma to make room for Whalen. Plus a time change for Thursday's game and injury updates on Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger.
WASHINGTON D.C. — Emilio Pagan had his best outing in his brief big league career on Tuesday night, pitching four shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out four to save the rest of the Mariners’ bullpen in a 10-1 drubbing by the Nationals.
His reward for such a strong and useful appearance? A trip back to Tacoma.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pagan was optioned back to Class AAA Tacoma. The Mariners replaced him on the roster with right-hander Rob Whalen, who was recalled from the Rainiers. It’s his second call-up to Seattle. His first lasted for one game and he did not appear in it.
With Pagan throwing a season-high four innings, he wasn’t going to be available for at least three days and the Mariners still need fresh, available arms in the bullpen to help offset a patchwork starting rotation.
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“He did a great job last night,” manager Scott Servais said of Pagan. “I talked to him last night after the game and today when I let him know we were optioning him back. He really helped himself as far as raising himself on our depth chart. The key for him, and it’s what we talked about the last time he was here, you’ve got to get your secondary pitches over the plate. He had a really good slider last night and executed it against a very good lineup and we needed it.”
For Pagan, it was the moment that every pitcher needs in the big leagues — knowing your stuff will get outs at the highest level.
“It definitely feels good,” Pagan said after the game. “I thought I made some good pitches the last time and it just didn’t go my way. That’s baseball. But to have a good result is a definitely a good feeling.”
It’s something that Servais believes will help Pagan in the future.
“No doubt,” Servais said. “You’ve got to get an opportunity. Unfortunately, it was in a bad game. But we just let him go and he did it very efficiently. It’s a big confidence boost for him.”
Whalen, 23, will be available to pitch out of the bullpen the next few nights as more of a multiple-inning reliever. If he isn’t forced into a game over the next two days, he could slide into the open spot in the starting rotation and start on Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Whalen started the season on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. He’s made four starts with the Rainiers, going 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA.
Injury updates on Mitch Haniger and Felix Hernandez
*** After meeting with team doctors on Monday to have his strained right oblique re-examined, Haniger was back with the team in D.C. on Wednesday.
“He had a little soreness on the other side from compensating,” Servais said. “We’ll work him out with us here the next three to four days and see how he’s progressing to get him out on a rehab.”
Haniger remains hopeful to get back into games soon.
“It’s been feeling good just not 100 percent,” he said. “So we are just waiting till I feel no restrictions. I can’t really start a (rehab) assignment when I’m not 100 percent.”
This is a setback for Haniger, who had hoped to make a rehab assignment last week and be back in the Mariners lineup on this road trip. Now it’s setting up for him to return by the upcoming homestand at the earliest.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “Hopefully I’m not out too much longer and nothing gets worse. I will keep listening to the staff and keep progressing. I’m going day by day. Right now there is a day by day plan and I’m not looking ahead a week or two. I feel like last time I was looking ahead too far and tried to push it. So I’m not doing that again.”
*** Hernandez (shoulder bursitis) played long toss out to 120 feet before Wednesday’s game. It was his second straight day of long toss as he prepares to throw off a mound for the first time since going on the disabled list on April 26.
“I feel good,” he said, giving a thumbs up sign.
The plan is for Hernandez to throw a bullpen session on Saturday in Boston.
Time change for series finale in DC
With a nasty rainstorm forecasted for early Thursday evening, the Nationals decided to move up the start time of series finale with the Mariners. First pitch is now scheduled for 12:05 ET/9:05 a.m. PT. The game will still be televised on Root Sports and broadcast on ESPN 710.
Kyle Lewis, the Mariners’ top prospect and first-round draft pick from last year, is in the final stages of his rehab and recovery from season-ending knee surgery last August. General manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed that Lewis is participating in full baseball activities at the Mariners’ complex in Peoria, Arizona. He will likely begin playing in extended spring training games by June 1. The plan is for Lewis to head to Class A Clinton in mid-June after the 2017 draft.