When the Mariners sent top prospect Justus Sheffield to Class AAA Tacoma to start the season, no one expected the left-hander would be there real long.
Sheffield, acquired from the New York Yankees in the James Paxton trade, will make his Mariners debut Friday. Sheffield, 22, will follow starting pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, who is expected to pitch just one inning Friday in a move to keep his innings count down.
Sheffield, who threw three innings Monday for Tacoma, will be called up by the Mariners before Friday’s game.
“He’s come out of the bullpen before and the key is to come in, throw strikes and attack them,” manager Scott Servais said. “The catcher will have the plan and just stay with the catcher. Just simplify it. That’s what I would tell any young pitcher making his first start or first appearance. Just simplify it and trust your stuff.”
Servais would not say how long he wants Sheffield to go, “but he’s not going to throw 100 pitches.”
Sheffield, who pitched 2 2/3 innings for the Yankees last September, was 0-1 at Tacoma with a 3.93 earned-run average.
Servais said Kikuchi was aware of the Mariners’ plans to limit his innings when they signed him in the offseason.
“He was not surprised by it at all,” Servais said of the scheduled “abbreviated start” Friday. “We told him to prepare like he is going to throw 90 to 100 pitches, but he’s just not going to,” Servais said. “Don’t try any harder, go through the pregame routine as always and hope he throws a good inning.”
Mariner outfielder Jay Bruce was out of the starting lineup again Thursday with quadriceps tightness but was available to pinch-hit. Servais said Bruce, who has not played since being used as a pinch-hitter Sunday against the Angels, is “80 percent.”
- Outfielder Mallex Smith also got the night off. “We need to get him going again,” Servais said. Smith is in a 3-for-37 slump, dropping his batting average from .255 to .182.