Opponent: Texas Rangers
When: 12:10 p.m.
Where: Safeco Field
TV: Fox (Ch. 13)
Radio: ESPN (710 AM)
Probable starters: Seattle right-hander Felix Hernandez (2-1, 2.23) vs. leftt-hander Matt Harrison (0-1, 5.48).
Reliever Kelley optioned as M’s bring back Lee
Everyone and their Felix Hernandez bobblehead were at Safeco Field on Friday to watch Cliff Lee’s first start as a Seattle Mariner.
Everyone, that is, except Mariners relief pitcher Shawn Kelley. He became the expendable one in Lee’s return from the disabled list, optioned to the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers.
There was speculation that the Mariners might move Kanekoa Texeira or Jesus Colome, neither attractive to the team because the Mariners stood to lose either of those relievers. Texeira is a Rule 5 draft pick who’d need to be offered back to the Yankees, and Colome is out of minor league options.
Kelley, however, had options remaining and hadn’t been used much recently with the starters going deep into games on a more regular basis. Since April 19, Kelley has pitched only once, Tuesday at Kansas City.
Neither Colome nor Texeira have been used extensively, either. Colome has pitched only three games this season and, going into Friday, was last used April 18 after going a week without pitching. Texeira has pitched five times, the last on April 23.
“Kelley had an option left and this gives him an opportunity to go down and pitch,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We still feel like he’s going to be a big part of this as we go forward but it’s something we felt was needed to make room for Lee. We didn’t really want to make that move because we felt he was pitching better and better, but he was pitching one out of every five or six days. At this time, it’s better for him to go down and get some work.”
As expected, Wakamatsu said right-hander Ian Snell would move from the rotation to the bullpen. Snell, 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA, gave up two earned runs in 51/3 innings Tuesday at Kansas City.
“We called him in today and told him he was in the bullpen and he was fine,” Wakamatsu said. “Throwing 94-95 (mph) with a hard slider, he did everything we asked him to do in his last start. I think he believes in where he’s at right now. If his last outing wasn’t as good, it may be harder for him to go to the pen.”
Tweaking the rotation
With Monday being the Mariners’ second off day in a five-day span, they won’t skip any of their starters but will have Felix Hernandez and Doug Fister pitching next weekend on five days of rest.
Hernandez and Fister will pitch Saturday and Sunday, respectively, against the Rangers, and then next Friday and Saturday against the Angels.
Wakamatsu said Jason Vargas, Cliff Lee and Ryan Rowland-Smith would start the three games against the Rays, in that order, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Hannahan activated, optioned
The Mariners activated utility infielder Jack Hannahan from the disabled list Friday and optioned him to Class AAA Tacoma.
Hannahan, who suffered a strained right groin in the second spring training game March 4, has batted .214 since beginning a rehab assignment with Tacoma on April 16. Because Hannahan missed nearly all of spring training, Wakamatsu said he would need about 50 at-bats to be ready for the big leagues.
Wakamatsu on the lack of production from the DH spot, where Ken Griffey Jr. entered Friday batting .226 with a double as his only extra-base hit and Mike Sweeney .174 with four singles in 23 at-bats: “I know we can’t continue that. Griff’s working hard and the rest is going to be up to him to try to produce for us. Griff’s given us some big hits over the last year and we’re looking for him to get back on track this series.”
… Erik Bedard threw 50-60 pitches in the bullpen Friday and the Mariners will determine what he does next until they see how he feels today. Bedard’s bullpen was pushed back a couple of days because of a stiff neck he had early this week in Kansas City. … Today’s 12:10 p.m. start is the second-earliest for the Mariners since Safeco Field opened in 1999. The game on Aug. 18, 2002, started at 12:07 p.m. … Olympic short-track speedskater J.R. Celski of Federal Way threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Friday’s game. … The Mariners also honored newly retired Seattle Seahawk Walter Jones before the game.
Kirby Arnold, Herald Writer