06/10/12 9:20 PM ET
League could return to Mariners' closer role
By Greg Johns / MLB.com
League has a 3.52 ERA with three holds in his seven games since May 28, allowing three earned runs and nine hits in 7 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits and two runs in the eighth inning of Sunday's 8-2 loss.
Wedge hasn't formally named a replacement closer in that span, but Tom Wilhelmsen has three saves and has pitched well in his ninth-inning appearances. But Wedge feels the bullpen will work best with a full-strength League in the closing role and indicated he and pitching coach Carl Willis are in agreement that the time is near.
"We feel like the last time [League] was out was everything we were looking for, from the way he carried himself, to his stuff, to the competition, to the situation," Wedge said. "We felt really the three previous times he threw the ball was pretty good, too.
"Tom has done a nice job for us late in the ballgame. We've had a lot of guys in the bullpen doing a nice job. We'll stay where we are today and at some point in time, sooner than later, we'll look to give League another shot at closing. But I'm not going to do that on a whim. I'm not going to surprise anybody. I'll have a conversation first and we haven't had that conversation."
Wedge said the plan all along has been to give League time to regain his form and confidence, much as happened last year after a midseason blip.
"He saved 37 games for us last year," Wedge said. "The reason we went with everybody in the bullpen instead of just one guy when we pulled Brandon back is I didn't want to put that heat on one guy. And I still feel that way. Truth of the matter is, we still have a lot of young kids in the bullpen. If things keep on track with Brandon and he gets another shot to close, that doesn't mean Tom or somebody else won't get a chance to close from time to time. You want to have options."
One thing Wedge doesn't want, however, is a "closer by committee" situation.
"That is a pain ... because everybody else is outside of their optimal role," he said.
Luetge keeps rolling out of Mariners' bullpen
SEATTLE -- Mariners Rule 5 rookie reliever Lucas Luetge extended his club record of starting the season without allowing an earned run to 23 appearances when he worked a scoreless ninth inning in Sunday's 8-2 loss to the Dodgers.
As a situational lefty, Luetge usually faces only one or two batters at a time, and his stint Saturday -- when he needed just two pitches to get Andre Ethier on a pop up to short -- was about as short as they come.
"It feels a little weird to see [manager Eric] Wedge coming right back out, but as long as you've done the job, it's good," Luetge said prior to Sunday's series finale with the Dodgers.
How much preparation went into Luetge's two-pitch performance on Saturday? He actually warmed up in two prior innings as well before getting the call, so he said he probably threw 25-30 pitches in the bullpen.
He said a normal warm-up session is about a dozen pitches.
"It depends on how much time you've got," Luetge said. "I could be ready in three to four pitches if I had to because you know you're getting another eight on the mound. So you just have to pace yourself. If they say get ready for the third hitter, it's a little more of a hurry than if they say the fifth hitter. But generally 10-15 pitches."
Luetge has totaled 15 innings in his 23 appearances. He's stranded 16 of the 17 runners he's inherited and left-handed hitters are batting .074 (2-for-27) against him with 13 strikeouts. His 23 appearances to start a season without an earned run break the former record of 20 by Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2002.
Millwood feels good, but next start undecided
SEATTLE -- The Mariners will wait until Tuesday to determine the status of veteran Kevin Millwood's next start, manager Eric Wedge said Sunday.
Millwood strained his right groin muscle after throwing the first six innings of Seattle's combined no-hitter on Friday against the Dodgers. His next scheduled start would be Thursday against the Padres, but the Mariners are listing that day's starter as TBA.
"We'll let him play catch today and work through tomorrow, then see where he is on Tuesday," Wedge said. "He said he felt pretty good, but we've got some leeway with the off-day [on Monday]. We could push him back a couple days."
Felix Hernandez is coming off his own brief layoff to start Tuesday against the Padres, with Hector Noesi set for Wednesday. Hernandez has had a sore back, but the Mariners used Thursday's off-day to give him a quick break.
The Mariners are listing Jason Vargas to start Friday and Blake Beavan Saturday against the Giants, but both could be moved up a day and still pitch on their normal four days' rest due to another off-day on Monday.
• Franklin Gutierrez went 2-for-4 and scored a run on Saturday while playing nine innings in center field for Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday. Gutierrez is batting .240 (6-for-25) with four walks and a .345 on-base percentage through the first seven games of what figures to be a full 20-day Minor League rehab stint as he comes back from a torn pectoral muscle and a heel issue.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Gutierrez is running well but will stay with the Rainiers when they head out on the road Monday. The Mariners have until June 21 to recall him from the rehab stint.
• Jesus Montero was back in the lineup Sunday at DH after taking a Clayton Kershaw fastball off his elbow on Saturday.
• Though they've pushed Felix Hernandez's next start back to Tuesday, the Mariners remain the only American League team to have used just five starters this season. Three National League teams -- the Reds, Marlins and Cardinals -- have also used just five starters so far.