In the wake of the 11th-inning injuries Friday night to relievers Jean Machi and Evan Marshall two pitches apart, the Mariners Saturday recalled RHPs Dan Altavilla and Rob Whalen from AAA Tacoma, placed Marshall on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring, and optioned RHP Emilio Pagan back to the Rainiers.
Altavilla and Whalen were available Saturday night when the Mariners played the second of three against the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
The injuries came only hours after the Mariners made two significant roster moves by placing their 2017 ace, LHP James Paxton, on the 10-day disabled list and optioning C Mike Zunino to the Rainiers. Paxton has a left forearm strain. Zunino’s replacement is C Tuffy Gosewisch, who entered Friday night’s game late in the 3-1 loss.
Paxton suffered a grade one (mildest) forearm strain that will require him to miss at least two starts, according to GM Jerry Dipoto.
“It sucks,” Paxton told reporters Friday. “Not what I wanted to happen, obviously. Luckily, it’s a minor thing. It’s not going to be a long stint here. I’m hoping that it’s just going to be a couple of starts. Maybe three at the most that I’ll miss. Then I’ll be back.”
Dipoto said veteran RHP Christian Bergman will be recalled this weekend from Tacoma. Either Bergman or lefty Dillon Overton will start Sunday in Paxton’s place against the Rangers.
Seattle lost Machi and Marshall in the 11th inning Friday in the span of two batters. After Machi had two outs, Carlos Gomez walked as Machi began shaking his pitching hand. He left the game and was diagnosed with a nerve problem in his right thumb.
Marshall, just called up from Tacoma, was given time to get ready, but on his second pitch to Joey Gallo, he screamed and grabbed at the back of his right leg as he dropped to the ground.
Altavilla had a 3.18 ERA in four relief appearances with Tacoma. In his first stint with Seattle (through April 21), he went 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA. He earned his first career MLB win April 6 at Houston.
Whalen, 23, made one start with Tacoma May 1 vs. Sacramento, tossing 4.2 scoreless innings. He was acquired by the Mariners along with RHP Max Povse from Atlanta for OF Alex Jackson and LHP Tyler Pike Nov. 28.
Also Friday, the Mariners recalled INF Mike Freeman from Tacoma and optioned OF Boog Powell to the Rainiers.
Paxton, 28, is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA with 45 strikeouts in six starts. He ranks fifth in the American League in ERA, third in strikeouts (45) and eighth in opponents batting average (.190). He opened the season with 23 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Mariners have three starting pitchers on the disabled list: Paxton, Felix Hernandez (right shoulder inflammation) and Drew Smyly (left arm flexor strain).
Gosewisch, 33, hit .240 in 17 games with the Rainiers. The Mariners claimed him off waivers from the Atlanta Braves Jan. 26. Prior to that, he was claimed by the Braves from the Arizona Diamondbacks Nov. 18.
Zunino, 26, hit .167 (12×72) in 24 games with the Mariners, fanning 30 times and posting a .250 on-base percentage and a .236 slugging mark. Zunino has played in 24 of the team’s first 29 games, including 21 starts.
For his career, Zunino is a .193 hitter in 374 big league games with 48 doubles, two triples, 50 home runs and 135 RBI.
“I do think there comes a point, and Mike knows this as well, where you need production,” said manager Scott Servais. “We haven’t had much production out of the catching spot offensively. Mike continues to do a great job behind the plate, working with Mel (Stottlemyre) and our pitchers to get them through stuff. But at some point, you have to see some results.”
Powell, 24, appeared in three games with Seattle during his first stint in the majors, going hitless in four at-bats. Before his recall, he hit .260 with Tacoma this season.
Pagan allowed a two-run homer in the 13th inning Friday night, giving the Rangers the victory.
Saturday the Mariners (13-17) start RHP Chase De Jong (0-2, 11.15). LHP Martin Perez (1-4, 4.26) will throw for the Rangers. De Jong will be starting for the second time in Hernandez’s absence.