M’s shake up rotation, send Smoak to Tacoma

SEATTLE — Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez walked back onto the Safeco Field grass Monday.

After making four starts in Tacoma, Ramirez was brought back to the big club in order to start Tuesday. Ramirez was sent to the Rainiers on June 25 when the Mariners recalled reliever Brandon Maurer. Seattle sent first baseman Justin Smoak to Tacoma to make room for Ramirez.

Smoak was 4-for-20 since being recalled from the Rainiers on July 11. Manager Lloyd McClendon cited a logjam at first base – Logan Morrison, Corey Hart and Willie Bloomquist can all play there – and a desire to keep an eight-man bullpen after the Mariners played 37 innings in a three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim last weekend.

That plugs one hole, since Seattle was unsure who would start Tuesday. It also opens another.

Wednesday’s starter for the finale against the Mets is still not determined. McClendon said reliever Tom Wilhelmsen is an option to start. McClendon said Wilhelmsen, who has been used in long relief, is at a point where he could throw five innings and 65-70 pitches.

Wilhelmsen has not pitched since last Friday, when he went four innings during the Mariners’ 3-2 loss to the Angels in Anaheim.

One other option for Wednesday is Taijuan Walker. Walker is slated to start for the Rainiers that night.

All the shuffling also bumps Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez back a day. They will start Thursday and Friday, respectively against the Orioles.

“I’ve said the same thing all year,” McClendon said. “When I have the opportunity to give them extra days, I’ll do it.”

Iwakuma only lasted 77 pitches during his first start after the All-Star break. That caught McClendon’s eye.

“He was a little fatigued,” McClendon said. “When I can do it, I’ll do it.”

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