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The newest addition to the Seattle Mariners’ bullpen arrived in the northwest in the wee hours of Monday morning, and officially reported to the team ahead of its series opener against Texas.
Matt Magill, a 29-year-old right-hander, was acquired by the Mariners on Sunday morning from Minnesota in exchange for cash considerations. He was designated for assignment by the Twins last Thursday, and has played parts of four major league seasons with the Dodgers, Reds, Twins and now Seattle.
The Southern California native said he is grateful to have an opportunity to join Seattle’s bullpen, which has been a popular landing spot for several relievers in transition this season.
“When one door closes, another door hopefully opens, and this year it opened for me, and I’m just very grateful to be here,” Magill said.
Magill posted a 2-0 record and 4.45 ERA in 28 relief appearances, walking 15 and striking out 36 in 28 1/3 innings with the Twins this season before he was dealt to Seattle.
His addition fills the 40-man roster, and right-hander Matt Festa was optioned back to Triple-A Tacoma in a corresponding move to make room for Magill on the active roster. Magill will become the 32nd reliever the Mariners have used this season when he pitches.
So, what differentiates him from the rest of the batch of relievers Seattle has auditioned this season?
“He has a tremendous nickname,” Mariners manager Scott Servais joked. “It’s ‘Goose.’ ”
Yes, it’s a “Top Gun” reference, and will be Magill’s chosen name with the Mariners this season, considering he becomes the third Matt in Seattle’s bullpen, joining recent additions Matt Carasiti and Matt Wisler.
Magill has seen the popular 1986 Tom Cruise movie more than a handful of times, and calls it a classic. His teammates gave him the nickname “Goose” last season, when he told them his son, who will be 1 year old in August, would be named Maverick.
“We got the name from ‘Top Gun,’ yes,” Magill said. “We live in San Diego, that’s where the second one is being filmed right now. We heard ‘Top Gun’ was being filmed again, and my wife’s like, ‘What about Maverick?’ I said, ‘I love it.’ It’s the only name we agreed on. We’re the Magill family. We’re the Matt and Melissa Magill family, so we had to keep the M’s going.
“The ‘Goose’ thing kind of took off with the old team because they’re like, ‘Well, you’ve got to be his wingman.’ I’m like, ‘There you go, a wingman for life.’ ... I just kind of ran with it, and I used it for player’s weekend last year, so I’m hoping it can stick. I would love it, because my son has been my greatest joy in the world.”
But, the nickname isn’t the only thing Magill brings to Seattle’s bullpen. He offers three pitches — a fastball which touches 94-95 mph, a slider and a curveball the Mariners hope to get plenty of use out of.
“The curveball might be his outlier pitch that maybe we can utilize a little bit more and see how it plays,” Servais said. “It’s a good pitch.”
Magill said he’s turned to his curveball more this season than he has in the past to adjust to hitters. He
“I’ve been told it’s one of the better ones in the game,” he said. “So, that’s encouraging for me. I get a lot of swings and misses with it, and a lot of weak contact, and that’s what I want to use it more for, and try to use it early and often.
“I think baseball is trending a little differently than it used to be. Everyone used to be fastball heavy — especially if you through mid-to-upper 90s. ... I think as baseball adapts, hitters adapt, they’re getting better, they’re hitting hard pitches, you’ve got to be able to show that you can throw breaking balls for strikes.”
Magill was a solid option for the Twins early on this season, after spending the first month of the season on the injured list with shoulder tendinitis, and said it flared up some later on, which may have contributed to a handful of shaky outings.
Through his first 14 appearances, from late April to early June, he was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 13 1/3 innings while walking five and striking out 18.
“I had three blowup outings, but other than that I think I’ve thrown the ball pretty well, and I’m happy that’s what the Mariners saw,” Magill said.
“He’s happy to be here,” Servais said. “He’s been with a number of different organizations. So, he’s been around a little bit. We’ll give him a shot and see what we’ve got.”