Right-handed reliever Dan Altavilla, believing he found a delivery flaw, rejoined the Mariners prior to Saturday’s game against Texas in the latest series of moves to shore up a struggling and injury-depleted bullpen.
The Mariners recalled right-hander Rob Whalen along with Altavilla from Triple-A Tacoma after clearing space by placing right-hander Evan Marshall on the disabled list and optioning right-hander Emilio Pagan to the Rainiers.
Altavilla, 24, returned after going allowing two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in four outings with the Rainiers. He opened the season on the big-league club but was optioned April 21 to Tacoma after compiling a 7.36 ERA in nine games.
The problem, Altavilla said, was sweeping his glove hand wide instead of keeping it close to his body with the thumb up. He credited Tacoma pitching coach Lance Painter for spotting the problem.
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"It’s frustrating that the move had to happen," Altavilla said, "but it’s one of those things where you’re glad it happened early so you can fix it. Painter is really good with mechanics. He got me right."
Whalen, 23, began the season on the disabled list because of inflammation in his shoulder. He pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the Rainiers in his only start.
"He threw the ball very well," manager Scott Servais said. "Much better than we saw in spring training. He was kind of messed up in spring training. He worked real hard to get his shoulder strength back."
Servais said Whalen would serve as "an early-in-the-game long man" in the bullpen.
Marshall, 27, suffered a severely strained right hamstring in Friday’s loss to the Rangers. He is expected to be sidelined for an extended period.
Pagan, 25, gave up a two-run homer to Rougned Odor in the 13th inning of Friday’s 3-1 loss. He allowed five runs in 2 2/3 innings over two outings after being promoted May 2 from Tacoma.
***Reliever Jean Machi was able to grip the ball again Saturday with no problem after leaving Friday’s game because he had no feeling in his thumb due to a nerve issue on his palm.
Even so, Servais said he hoped to avoid using Machi for the remainder of the weekend.
***Rehabbing reliever Steve Cishek experienced no day-after problems Saturday following a 40-pitch bullpen workout on Friday. Tentative plans call for him to start another minor-league rehab session this week at Tacoma.
Cishek is recovering fro October surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.
PATCHING THE ROTATION
Lefty Dillon Overton will start Sunday’s series finale against Texas in place of injured James Paxton, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday because of a strained forearm muscle.
Servais confirmed Overton as the starter after Saturday’s 8-2 victory over the Rangers.
Overton, 25, pitched as a starter throughout his previous three professional seasons but has been serving as the bullpen’s long reliever. He has allowed six runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The primary alternative to Overton was right-hander Christian Bergman, who is expected to be promoted Sunday from Tacoma. He is 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in five starts for the Rainiers.
Adding Bergman will require corresponding space-clearing moves on the 25-man and 40-man rosters.
IWAKUMA NOW IFFY
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma is still battling soreness in his left knee, and his status for a scheduled start Tuesday in Philadelphia is now in doubt.
"He’s not 100 percent," Servais conceded. "Now what percent, I’m not quite sure. Nothing is for certain right now. He hasn’t gotten on the mound yet.
"He doesn’t throw a lot between starts on the mound, but he likes to get up on the mound every time."
Iwakuma was struck on the left knee Tuesday by a line drive off the bat of Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
An open date Monday in the schedule does provide the Mariners with some flexibility. Iwakuma’s next start could easily be pushed back by up to four days without any other starter pitching on short rest.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners