It’s not something he wanted to get used to in his baseball career. But such is the life of a middle reliever in baseball who is out of options and living on the margins of a team’s roster.
Matt Wisler, the Mariners’ latest relieving reclamation project, arrived at T-Mobile Park Friday afternoon, joining a bullpen that features many pitchers who found their way here under similar circumstances.
The Mariners acquired Wisler, who had been designated for assignment, from the Padres for cash considerations on Thursday. To make room on the active roster, right-hander Mike Wright, acquired from the Orioles after he was designated for assignment, was designated once again. It was his second time designated by the Mariners and third time this season. If he clears waivers, he can be outrighted back to Class AAA Tacoma.
For Wisler, this was the fourth time he’d been traded in his career since being drafted by the Padres in 2011.
“It’s a little bit different getting DFA’d and sitting around a little bit,” he said. “You are just trying to stay sharp as you can. It’s a new opportunity wherever you go. Obviously this team sees something in me; hopefully I can take advantage this time.”
Wisler started the season in the Reds organization after being traded from Atlanta last season. Out of minor-league options, he was designated for assignment by Cincinnati coming out of spring training on March 28 when he didn’t make the MLB roster, then was traded back to the Padres a few days later. Wisler made 21 appearances for the Padres, posting a 2-2 record with a 5.28 ERA. In 29 innings, he struck out 34 batters with 10 walks. He was designated for assignment on June 29 and sat in baseball’s version of purgatory.
“It’s weird,” he said. “When it happened the first time this year, I was pretty much antsy the whole time and I didn’t understand it. This time it was a little easier. I just went home and mentally decompressed. I figured nothing was going to happen. And on the third day, (the Padres) told me they were talking to some teams. By the fourth day, it was like, ‘I want to know what’s going on and get back on the field.’ ”
Wisler got the call late Wednesday evening at his wife’s parents home in Los Angeles.
“It was like 10 o’clock, and I was like, ‘Well, probably nothing is going to happen tonight,’ ” he said. “But it was exciting. I know a couple of guys here. And I’m excited for the opportunity given to me.”
Wisler hasn’t pitched in a game since June 23, but tried to keep his arm going while he waited.
“I didn’t find anybody I could throw to,” he said. “So I just kind of threw into a fence. It’s all you can really do. It’s the middle of the season. There’s not too many people just sitting around waiting to catch people. You just do what you can. I got some workouts in and tried to stay as sharp as possible.”
The Mariners will try to get him a soft landing if possible.
“This year has been slider-heavy,” he said. “I try to attack guys with my best stuff – fastball and slider. The league started to make some adjustments back to me coming out of the bullpen and throwing so many sliders. So it’s now my turn to make some adjustments back.”
Wisler met with manager Scott Servais on Friday afternoon after arriving at the stadium.
“I’ve got the questions down now when it comes to talking to the new guys,” Servais said. “I’ve had quite a few of those meetings. I got to learn a little bit about him, where he’s from and how his seasons have gone and give him an idea of how we plan to use him.”
The Mariners will announce their starting rotation coming out of the All-Star break on Saturday. Servais said the order of his rotation will be slightly different than what it has been going into the break. It’s possible he will try to wait a few games before having Marco Gonzales or Yusei Kikuchi start to give them additional rest to go with the four-day break. The team had a similar plan for Gonzales and James Paxton last season.