DENVER – The Seattle Mariners have gone to a six-man starting rotation – at least temporarily – that will give Brandon Morrow a start Thursday in San Diego.
Held to just over 60 pitches in his Saturday start, Morrow will be given 75 to 80 pitches against the Padres as the team lengthens him out in the majors instead of with the Tacoma Rainiers.
“If we can do the same thing here that he would be doing in Tacoma, he gets what you can’t replicate – major league experience,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
There are other factors in Morrow’s situation: nagging injuries to Erik Bedard (tight shoulder) and Jarrod Washburn (back). Washburn endured back spasms in his last start, and the Mariners say his back “locked up” on him again over the weekend.
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As it stands, with today’s off day, Jason Vargas will have seven days between starts as the Mariners try to get six pitchers regular work.
Here’s the rotation, beginning Tuesday in San Diego:
Felix Hernandez, Garrett Olson, Morrow, Washburn or Bedard, then Bedard or Washburn, and Vargas.
“It is confusing,” Wakamatsu acknowledged. “But we’re dealing with trying to give Washburn and Bedard a little extra time.”
Both veteran left-handers will have missed turns through the rotation by the time they next take the mound. Lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith, who’s started in Tacoma, will remain with the Rainiers indefinitely.
Kelley eager to work
After weeks of playing long toss and throwing on flat ground, Shawn Kelley went to the bullpen mound Sunday and threw 25 fastballs – a major test in his comeback from an oblique strain.
“It was pretty big for me, because if I’d had any problem today it would have meant I wasn’t ready,” Kelley said. “Now, I’ll do this again Tuesday and we’ll start the plan to officially rehab and get me back in games. I’ll actually get a timetable.”
Kelley, who went to spring training without a spot on the roster, made the team as a hard-throwing right-hander. He made such an impression that before he was hurt May 6 he’d joined the late-inning mix in the Seattle bullpen.
“We have a notebook that tells us how much time each of our relievers has had off – one day, two, that kind of thing,” Wakamatsu said. “Kelley got hold of it and wrote beside his name ‘37 days off.’ He’s anxious to pitch again.”
With his leadoff single in the first inning, Ichiro Suzuki now has at least one hit in 25 of his last 26 road games this season. Going back to last year, he’s hit safely in 47 of the last 48 road games in which he’s played. …
Vargas may have had trouble on the mound, but he singled in his first at-bat, and it might not have been a fluke. At Long Beach State, when he wasn’t pitching, Vargas was the designated hitter – and batted .354. …
Jose Lopez has eight game-winning RBI, tied for the American League lead, and leads the Mariners with 12 two-out RBI this season. … Roy Corcoran returned to the team from the disabled list and threw 1 scoreless innings Sunday.
Seattle has today off before Tuesday’s opener of a three-game series in San Diego.