After reaching the point where they couldn’t find a situation where they felt comfortable sending the struggling Drew Steckenrider to the mound, it was time to make a change.

Steckenrider was optioned to Class AAA Tacoma after another abysmal outing in the Mariners’ 7-5 loss Wednesday to the A’s. The veteran right-hander allowed the game-tying home run and recorded just two outs.

The Mariners announced the roster move Thursday, but with no game, they didn’t make a corresponding roster move until just before Friday’s game, selecting the minor league contract of lefty Roenis Elias and adding him to the active roster. To make room for Elias on the 40-man roster, right-handed Riley O’Brien was designated for assignment.

“Steck was a critical piece to our bullpen last year, and he just hasn’t been able to get it going this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He’s been behind in the count a lot. He just hasn’t had many clean innings. His secondary pitches, the curveball/slider that he’s working on. He’s trying to work on things at the major league level. That’s pretty hard to do. It became apparent to me at that point, he probably needed to step back.”

In 16 appearances this season, Steckenrider was 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA, a save, four holds and two blown saves. In 14 1/3 innings, he’d allowed 21 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts. He allowed hits in 12 of his 16 outings and base runners in all but one. 

Opponents had a .333/.382/.540 slash line against him in 69 plate appearances.

A year ago, he appeared in 62 games, posting a 5-2 record with a 2.00 ERA, 14 saves, seven holds and three blown saves. In 67 2/3 innings, he had 58 strikeouts and 17 walks. Opposing hitters posted a .214/.274/.333 slash line in 267 plate appearances.

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“I love Steck,” Servais said. “I love the toughness that he brings. When he goes out there, I always feel good about him being out there, but only when he’s got his best stuff and when he’s got confidence. Right now, we’ve got to get that confidence going and trust in all of his pitches.”

Elias, 33, appeared in one game with the Mariners this season, allowing a run on one hit with two walks in an inning of work May 16 in Toronto. He was called up to replace Steckenrider, who was placed on the restricted list for the series because he wasn’t able to meet Canada’s vaccination requirements.

O’Brien, a Seattle native and a Shorewood standout, made his Mariners debut May 7, tossing a scoreless inning. He was acquired by Seattle from Cincinnati on April 16, and was recalled May 5 from Tacoma.

Winker hurting

Outfielder Jesse Winker was scratched from the starting lineup about an hour before batting practice Friday due to a sore right shoulder.

“He has had a history of this in the past,” Servais said. “He tried to get some extra treatment before he left on the day game and woke up a little sore today. Hopefully he’ll be OK tomorrow. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing, but it’s a right shoulder issue.”

He had season-ending shoulder surgery on the same shoulder in 2018 and missed the final 73 games of his rookie season.

Notes

  • After throwing a live batting practice session in Arizona, right-handed pitcher Ken Giles (right middle finger strain) is expected to start a rehab assignment this weekend with Class AAA Tacoma. Since he was shut down in mid-March, Giles will need to make multiple appearances on the rehab stint. Servais said that Giles will split time between Tacoma and High-A Everett.
  • Right-handed pitcher Erik Swanson (elbow tendinitis) is expected to throw off a mound some time this weekend, meaning a rehab stint could start the following weekend.
  • Catcher Tom Murphy (dislocated left shoulder) is about a week away from resuming baseball activities after suffering a setback on the road trip.
  • Outfielder Mitch Haniger (high right ankle sprain) is out of the walking boot and is doing minimal exercises in a pool. He’s said nothing has changed on a projected timeline to return.