Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik first looked into acquiring pitcher Aaron Harang last winter and finally landed him Thursday from the Colorado Rockies for minor league right-hander Steven Hensley and cash.
Harang immediately gives Seattle some experience and depth on a pitching staff that’s been beaten up early in the season, especially the back end of the rotation. Rookie starter Brandon Maurer didn’t make it out of the first inning Tuesday night and Blake Beavan has allowed five earned runs in both of his starts.
The Rockies acquired Harang last Saturday when they traded catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-hander went 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA last season for the Dodgers, but was left out of a crowded rotation this year.
Harang, who turns 35 next month, is 105-104 with a 4.19 ERA in 11 major league seasons with Oakland, Cincinnati, San Diego and Los Angeles.
Colorado never intended to keep Harang, and the Mariners needed another starter after allowing Jon Garland to opt out of his contract this spring rather than adding him to their roster. The Rockies scooped up Garland and put him in their rotation.
Harang is expected to join the Mariners on Friday, although his exact role is still to be determined. Seattle manager Eric Wedge said Harang will throw a bullpen on Friday and then the team will assess where he best fits. Harang told Zduriencik that he threw a simulated game at San Diego State on Wednesday and the Mariners are approaching the situation as though they have six starters right now.
Zduriencik also confirmed the Mariners will get some salary relief. Harang signed a $12 million, two-year deal with the Dodgers before the start of the 2012 season.
“Until he does his bullpen, and we have starters, the fact that he is going to bump somebody is a little premature right now. But he is a starting pitcher,” Zduriencik said. “If he is in good shape, and his pitch count is where it needs to be and his bullpen is successful, then we’ll address it after that.”
The decision to go after Harang was partly due to a triceps strain sustained by Erasmo Ramirez, who is currently on the Triple-A disabled list. If Ramirez was healthy, or Jeremy Bonderman was ready to make the jump from Triple-A in his comeback attempt, Zduriencik said the trade may not have happened.
Michael Saunders’ initial fear was that he’d broken his collarbone after crashing into the outfield wall.
“I definitely thought something was wrong,” the Seattle outfielder said Thursday. “However, out of a bad situation this was the best case and the best outcome that could have happened.”
Saunders was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder.
Saunders was hurt Wednesday night in the first inning against Houston when he slammed into the right-field wall catching leadoff hitter Jose Altuve’s fly ball. Saunders said his arm went numb after hitting the padded wall at full speed and was immediately worried about his collarbone.
He was relieved that it was simply a shoulder sprain that didn’t cause any damage to a previous shoulder injury that required surgery in 2008.
To fill his roster spot, the Mariners selected the contract of outfielder Endy Chavez from Triple-A Tacoma and designated for assignment pitcher D.J. Mitchell to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Saunders fought the idea of going on the disabled list, but was likely to be sidelined for a couple of weeks while recovering from the injury.