The Mariners’ Roenis Elias pitches against the Athletics during a game in 2015. After being traded to the Red Sox in 2015, Seattle re-acquired Elias earlier this season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The Mariners’ Roenis Elias pitches against the Athletics during a game in 2015. After being traded to the Red Sox in 2015, Seattle re-acquired Elias earlier this season. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Elias gets second chance with Mariners

He was re-acquired in a trade earlier this year and called up Friday after Mark Rzepczynski was DFA’d.

SEATTLE — It’s not all quite as Roenis Elias remembers from the Seattle Mariners’ clubhouse. Felix Hernandez is pretty much the same loud, hair-looks-different-everyday self, but Elias never had a pool table right in front of his stall and there’s a lot of younger players compared to his last stay here, when he made his big-league debut with the Mariners to open the 2014 season.

The Mariners recalled the Cuban-born left-hander from Triple-A Tacoma earlier Friday before their game against the Tampa Bay Rays and designated another lefty for assignment, veteran Marc Rzepczynski.

But it didn’t take a translator to understand Elias’ response, saying what it took for him to make it back to this point after injuries relegated him to just four major league games with the Boston Red Sox the past two seasons.

“Trabajo,” Elias said, with Mariners bench coach Manny Acta close by to translate. “Trabajo, trabajo.”

For those without even a loose understanding of Spanish: “Work. Work, work.”

“I feel very fortunate because sometimes you stop and think that you might not get another opportunity to get up here,” Elias said, with Acta translating. “I went into that situation (Boston) and worked very hard, but the door didn’t open for me.

“I got the call yesterday and that made me very happy and caught me by surprise. I didn’t think this opportunity was going to come this fast.”

The Mariners reacquired Elias, 29, in a trade with the Red Sox in exchange for cash or a player to be named later in late April. The Mariners had sent him to Boston with reliever Carson Smith for pitchers Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro (neither are still with the Mariners) back in December of 2015.

The Red Sox began to convert Elias into a reliever before he returned to the Mariners’ organization. After one relief appearance with Triple-A Tacoma, Elias then started the past six games, including Wednesday when he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing one hit at Las Vegas.

Rzepczynski, 32, had evolved into a lefty matchup specialist who struggled to get left-handed hitters out. He didn’t record an out in four of his 18 appearances this season and averaged just over an out per appearance. His 9.39 ERA was highest on the Mariners’ active roster.

That’s far from where Rzepczynski was last season, when he allowed 10 runs in the 56 games when he faced at least one left-handed batter. This year he allowed seven runs in 17 games against left-handed batters.

The Mariners now have seven days to trade, release or outright the contract of Rzepczynski to the minor leagues.

“Tough call,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said before their Friday night game against the Tampa Bay Rays. “It’s been a struggle for him just to get the results that he or we were looking for and this is a do-good league. If you do good, you stay. But it doesn’t make it any easier, especially with a guy who has that much service time and has been around.”

But the decision was made easier with left-hander Wade LeBlanc’s emergence in the starting rotation and James Pazos proving he’s capable of handling the late-inning leverage situations against left-handers, with an ability to get right-handed bats out as well.

“No question,” Servais said. “But this was about Zep and where he fit into the team and you have to produce. That’s what the big leagues are about and we’ve been very clear from the outset of the season that we’re about 2018 and what’s going to help us win and take us to the next step and get us to the playoffs.”

Elias fills a void as a multi-inning lefty since LeBlanc moved into the rotation and he can make spot starts as needed.

The question — can he command. Reports from Boston had said he struggled with his fastball and ever-changing mechanics.

“His stuff has played well, but strike-throwing is key for him,” Servais said. “And when he gets it over the plate he usually has good results.”

Elias went 2-4 with a 4.94 ERA in 31 innings with 27 strikeouts and 12 walks in his seven games in Tacoma.

He said he’s seen his velocity increase, touching 94 mph with his fastball. But how will that play transitioning back to a big-league bullpen after his 2017 season was cut short by an oblique strain?

“I was pitching out of the pen over there (in Boston) so the only issue was when I went to Tacoma and they asked me to start,” Elias said. “The stamina issue is different because when you come back to the bullpen for one or two innings it’s not the same as when you are starting and you have to go six or seven innings. But I’ve prepared my mind to come over here and pitch out of the pen because I’ve done that in Boston.”

Elias went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts his rookie season in 2014. He signed with the Mariners as a minor-league free agent in 2011 after he defected from Cuba in 2010.

“The work I put in last year and throughout the offseason and all the routines I learned over in Boston, that’s the same thing I’m doing here,” Elias said. “And that’s what’s going to keep doing it for me because I don’t want to get hurt again. So I’m just working hard.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker compete in the rhythm dance program during the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
Local Olympians Baker, Beighton nervously await games with COVID-threat lingering

Jean-Luc Baker and Sean Beighton qualified for the Winter Olympics, but 1 positive COVID test could derail their dreams.

Washington guard Terrell Brown Jr. (23) breaks away after a turnover as Stanford forward Spencer Jones (14) looks on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Huskies outlast Cardinal for 3rd Pac-12 win

Terrell Brown Jr. poured in 25 points and Jamal Bey added 17 for the Huskies.

X
Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 15

Prep results for Saturday, Jan. 15: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Los Angeles Kings center Adrian Kempe, second from right, celebrates his goal with teammates Alex Iafallo (19), Anze Kopitar, center and Matt Roy (3) as Seattle Kraken right wing Joonas Donskoi (72) and Seattle Kraken center Calle Jarnkrok (19) react during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Kraken’s losing streak reaches 9 after loss to Kings

Seattle produced just 18 shots on goal as their losing streak continued to climb towards double digits.

Silvertips fall to rival Thunderbirds

Everett fell behind 4-0 before scoring its first goal and was outshot 45 to 19.

FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2015, file photo, Pittsburgh Pirates' Travis Snider drives in two runs with a single off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel during the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader in Pittsburgh. Snider has agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers and will attend big league spring training. Snider, whose deal was announced Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, did not appear in the major leagues last season. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Former Jackson star Snider retires from MLB

The 33-year-old spent parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Pirates and Orioles.

Shorecrest's Parker Baumann gathers a loose dribble with Stanwood's John Floyd defending Thursday evening at Shorecrest High School in Shoreline, Washington on January 13, 2022. The Highlanders won 88-68. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Shorecrest boys race past Stanwood in key league clash

Devon Nehring has a career night as the Scots improve to 10-1 with an 88-68 win over the Spartans.

X
Prep results for Friday, Jan. 14

Prep results for Friday, Jan. 14: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Kevin Clark / The Herald

***Silvertips Special Sections*****
Yan Khomenko signals for substitution Sunday night at Xfinity Arena in Everett, Wa on September 6th, 2015

Sports:  Silvertips Special Section
Shot on: 09/06/15
Silvertips blast Spokane 6-2

Six different players scored as Everett rolled to another victory.

Most Read