08/31/11 10:29 PM ET
Mariners likely to add arms to expanded roster
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
Wedge said the decision on promotions has been made, but he couldn't name names because the players involved weren't to be informed until after their Minor League games Wednesday night.
He did say there would be some pitching additions, which is something of a given since the Mariners' bullpen currently is at six after Dan Cortes went on the 15-day disabled list last week.
Right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley, throwing well at Triple-A Tacoma after recovering from elbow surgery, is a likely addition. If the Mariners choose to promote another starter, given the struggles of Anthony Vasquez in his first two starts, the Rainiers' best starter recently has been Erasmo Ramirez.
Ramirez, 21, isn't on the 40-man roster, but the Mariners opened one spot there by trading infielder Jack Wilson to the Braves for a player to be named.
Third baseman Alex Liddi (.256, 28 home runs, 99 RBIs) is another who could get a call, though Wedge indicated several players wouldn't be brought up until the Rainiers' season ends next week and Liddi might fall in that category so he can continue playing as much as possible.
Catcher Chris Gimenez is a strong possibility as he's now back to health after coming off the 60-day disabled list with an oblique injury suffered while he was with the Mariners earlier in the season.
The ability to expand rosters also will allow the Mariners to bring first baseman Justin Smoak off the 15-day disabled list without needing to remove anyone from the 25-man roster. Smoak played his third rehab game for Tacoma on Wednesday and is eligible to come off the DL at any time now, his broken nose and cheek now fully healed.
Infielder Chone Figgins, on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor injury, had some soreness Wednesday after an extensive workout Tuesday, according to Wedge.
"We'll back him off a little and see how he feels tomorrow," Wedge said. "There's a chance he might go on rehab [to Tacoma} and a chance he might just go on the road trip with us and keep working."
Veteran infielder Wilson traded to Braves
SEATTLE -- Mariners infielder Jack Wilson, currently on the 15-day disabled list with a heel injury, was traded Wednesday to the Braves for a player to be named.
Wilson, 33, hit .249 in 62 games for Seattle this season with eight doubles and 11 RBIs.
The veteran opened the season as the Mariners' starting second baseman after losing his shortstop role to Brendan Ryan in Spring Training. But Adam Kennedy largely took over the second-base job until rookie Dustin Ackley's mid-June promotion, leaving Wilson to a utility role.
"We've obviously got some young players who need to continue playing," manager Eric Wedge said. "And we've got [Justin] Smoak coming back, [Chone] Figgins coming back at some point in time. It's an opportunity to loosen things up, but it's also an opportunity for Jack to go somewhere and play in the postseason."
An excellent defender, Wilson wound up playing 45 games at second, 13 at shortstop and one at third base for the Mariners before injuring his heel on Aug. 16 after a six-game stretch during which he'd gone 10-for-22 with four doubles and four RBIs.
Wilson was acquired by the Mariners on July 29, 2009, and wound up hitting .243 in 154 games for Seattle. He's a career .266 hitter in 1,313 games with the Pirates and Mariners.
By being acquired prior to Aug. 31 means Wilson will be eligible for the Braves' postseason roster.
Gray eager to move on from rocky outing
SEATTLE -- Since his bullpen role increased in July, Jeff Gray has been one of the pleasant discoveries for the Mariners' relief corps this season.
But things went sideways for the 29-year-old Tuesday, when he walked three straight batters and wound up surrendering four runs in a disastrous fifth inning in Seattle's 13-6 loss to the Angels.
Gray, who hadn't allowed a run in his previous four outings, said Wednesday there was only one way to deal with that miserable memory.
"You have to throw that one in the trash," he said. "I can't do anything about it. I need to think about the positives I have done and go back to that. That's a lot easier said than done, but it's over with and I'll keep going."
Gray, who was claimed off waivers from the White Sox in mid-May, has impressed the Mariners with a mid-90s fastball and -- until Tuesday -- pretty good poise in difficult situations.
"We have seen good outings out of him," pitching coach Carl Willis said. "He's come in and picked us up on more than one occasion."
But Willis felt Gray got away from challenging hitters against the Angels and pitched defensively.
"The stuff is there. He's got a really, really good arm," Willis said. "But he just has to have a more aggressive, positive approach in terms of how he approaches hitters."
Gray inherited two runners with no outs from young starter Anthony Vasquez and immediately walked Mark Trumbo, Vernon Wells and Mike Trout before later giving up doubles to Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos.
"When I first came out there I couldn't get that first strike and that's usually where I'm pretty solid," Gray said. "I just was having a lot of trouble with my first strike, the ball was sinking out of the zone and I couldn't get them to bite.
"Bottom line, it just wasn't very good pitching. It was one of those days."
Gray just hopes the one outing doesn't take away from what he's built in a season in which he's posted a 4.39 ERA in 41 innings and become something of a veteran presence in a bullpen that includes three rookies.
"It's been a good year for me," he said. "I've enjoyed being part of this bullpen and helping [Brandon] League and [Jamey] Wright and back when we had [David] Pauley and [Chris] Ray.
"I've had a solid year and been able to maintain it. Hopefully this doesn't push me aside and I keep it going and finish strong."
Lueke picks up Mariners in extended role
SEATTLE -- Before getting traded to the Mariners organization last year, Josh Lueke said he was always a one-inning reliever in the Rangers' system.
But the hard-throwing right-hander went three shutout innings Tuesday against the Angels, extending his scoreless streak to 6 1/3 innings over three appearances as he's begun gaining more comfort this rookie season.
"It's a little different to go out there and throw three innings," said the 26-year-old. "When you get thrown out there a little early in a game like that, you know you need to go out and get some quick innings under your belt and do whatever you can to limit the use of the bullpen so everybody will be fresh and ready to go tomorrow."
Mission accomplished, and greatly appreciated by his manager after starter Anthony Vasquez and reliever Jeff Gray had given up 12 runs in the first five innings of an eventual 13-6 loss.
"Lueke really saved us," manager Eric Wedge said. "And it wasn't just throwing three innings, he really threw the ball with good stuff."
Lueke, obtained in the Cliff Lee deal last year, still carries a 7.04 ERA and has 28 hits and 10 walks in 23 innings. But he's allowed just four hits and no walks in his last 6 1/3 frames and said he's found an approach to build on.
"I finally feel like things are starting to get balanced," he said. "I had a little bit of a roller-coaster ride there for a bit, but I'm trying to keep even-keeled and the confidence flowing and not allowing things to spike up and down like that."