4/20/2014 7:17 P.M. ET
McClendon wary of bullpen's heavy workload
By Christina De Nicola / Special to MLB.com
MIAMI -- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon keeps tabs of the number of innings, days and up-and-downs each reliever accumulates, and for good reason.
Over the last four games after Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Marlins, Seattle's starting pitchers have combined to allow 23 hits and 16 runs (14 earned) over 15 innings.
"Our bullpen is the backbone of our club, but it won't be if we keep logging the innings that we're logging," McClendon said. "We've got to get our starting rotation straightened out. I said this coming out of Spring Training -- I think it takes about 50 games before you really know what type of club you really have, how you want to attack.
"This is certainly not a time for us to panic. We'll get things straightened. We'll get that rotation straightened out. In the meantime, I want to make sure we take care of those arms in the bullpen because they're so important to us and they're going to be important to our success this year."
Right-hander Brandon Maurer started Sunday's series finale after getting called up from Triple-A Tacoma. McClendon hoped to get five innings out of Maurer, who only started one of his four outings in the Minors as he builds arm strength coming off a back injury.
Seattle's bullpen entered Sunday ranked 11th in the Majors with a 3.21 ERA and tied for 10th in innings pitched (56).
"In the Minor Leagues, I've been in plenty of these situations where pitchers get called up and the bullpen is basically used to cover all the innings," lefty Danny Farquhar said. "I've pitched three innings and I even did it last year. I'm used to it. Nothing different."
During the first two games in Miami, seven relievers have combined to toss 7 1/3 innings, keeping the games close for the offense to attempt a comeback.
Aside from Giancarlo Stanton's walk-off grand slam against righty Yoervis Medina and a run off righty Fernando Rodney Saturday night, the bullpen has shut down the bats.
"Always got to do that," lefty Charlie Furbush said. "That's the thing in the bullpen. You never know how the game is going to develop. You have to be ready at all times regardless of the situation. Obviously these last couple of days where the starters aren't going as deep as they would like other guys have to step up and pick each other up in different situations."
Almonte steady at the top for Mariners
MIAMI -- Even with the shuffling of Sunday afternoon's lineup, one thing remained a constant for the Mariners: Abraham Almonte starting in center field and leading off.
Including Sunday's series finale at Marlins Park, Almonte had started all 18 games for Seattle this season, reaching base in 14 of them, with hits in 13, including four multi-hit games.
"I don't try to do too much," Almonte said. "I do what I know and play the game the way that I know and if anything doesn't go well, I adjust the way I'm supposed to. I go to my coaches and figure it out. So far, I'm just trying to be the same guy."
Consistency is tough for any young player to achieve, and the 24-year-old outfielder is no different.
A night after going 2-for-5 with two extra-base hits and two strikeouts, Almonte went hitless in four at-bats against Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez on Saturday.
"It's one of the biggest things I've seen in baseball, always," said Almonte, who is batting .233 with four doubles, a triple, a homer and six RBIs. "It comes with confidence and relaxing and believing you can do it. Working hard and trusting yourself so you can do it. Bad days are going to come. If you don't trust that you can do it it's going to be tough."
Almonte's mentality is in the right spot -- working on seeing more pitches, striving for patience and finding a way to get on base for RBI guys like Robinson Cano and Corey Hart. He ranks 45th in the big leagues with 3.97 pitches per plate appearance.
Prior to this season, Almonte had played in just 25 games at the Major League level, so his experience is low and his learning curve high.
"I think he'll get better as he gets around the league a second time and just learns the pitchers," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think he's making a conscious effort with two strikes to be a better hitter. The other part of that comes with knowledge -- knowledge of the league. He'll get better."
Morrison, Buck finish weekend reunion in Miami
MIAMI -- Two key cogs of the 2012 re-branded Marlins franchise -- Mariners backup catcher John Buck and outfielder Logan Morrison -- returned to Marlins Park for the weekend series.
Morrison, who spent four injury-plagued seasons in the big leagues with the Marlins, went on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a right hamstring strain.
"Not too happy about not being able to compete, but they say everything happens for a reason," Morrison said. "I'm not quite sure what that reason is right now, but I'm not looking at half a season like I was the last couple of years, so I'm happy about that."
Rather than wait and see whether Morrison could stay healthy a full year, the Marlins signed free-agent first baseman Garrett Jones this past offseason and traded Morrison to the Mariners for reliever Carter Capps.
In 363 games, Morrison batted .249 with 42 homers and 162 RBIs. Asked whether he hoped to prove the Marlins made the wrong decision, Morrison said that wasn't his main objective.
"I hope that I prove that they did," Morrison said. "It's not like I'm going out there with that in mind, but if I prove that they did then that means I'm playing well and helping my team win, and that's what I want to do."
Buck started Sunday's finale and hit eighth in the order. In his two seasons with the Marlins, he hit .213 with 28 homers and 98 RBIs. He came back to Marlins Park as a member of the Mets last season.
"Even being a visitor I want them to move the fences in, but we know that's a conversation we shouldn't bring up," Buck joked. "But now that I'm away, I can bring it up."
• Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who is on the disabled list with a sprained tendon in his right middle finger, threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Sunday. If all goes according to plan, he will start a rehab assignment on Tuesday.
• The Mariners optioned outfielder James Jones to Triple-A Tacoma following Saturday night's game to make room on the 25-man roster for Sunday starter Brandon Maurer.
Jones collected his first Major League hit -- an infield single with two outs in the eighth off A.J. Ramos -- in his first big league plate appearance on Friday.
"I love him," McClendon said. "I said this before, I don't think he's going to knock on the door. I think he's going to tear the door down. He's ready. He's a very talented kid and he's got a lot of tools to work with."
• On this day in 1990, Brian Holman threw 8 2/3 perfect innings in front of a sellout crowd in Oakland. Ken Phelps ruined the bid with a first-pitch, pinch-hit home run to right field.
Christina De Nicola is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.