Mariners look to keep good vibes going vs. Rangers

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When Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais opened his office door Saturday, he found Kendall Graveman waiting for him.

The right-hander wanted to let Servais know that he was ready to pitch again after a 1-2-3 inning Friday night.

Considering that was Graveman’s first appearance in more than a month after being sidelined with a benign tumor in his neck, Servais wasn’t about to take any chances with rushing the 29-year-old back out to the mound. Servais said the Mariners will be cautious with Graveman and will likely only use him every other day at most initially.

That means Graveman would be available Sunday afternoon when the Mariners (17-22) play host to the Texas Rangers (13-25) — though right-hander Justin Dunn (2-1, 4.33 ERA) will get the start.

Graveman, a two-time Opening Day starter while with the Oakland Athletics, is expected to continue in a relief role for the remainder of the season with the Mariners.

His first time out of the bullpen couldn’t have gone much better, with Graveman hitting 99 mph on the radar gun as he took just 13 pitches to get through the seventh inning of a 6-3 victory.

“Kendall Graveman was electric,” Servais said. “His stuff was awesome. We saw that type of velocity at times when he was starting. We didn’t know what we’d get out of the ‘pen. He was amped up, as he should have been, and I’m just really happy for him.”

Graveman missed most of the past two seasons after Tommy John surgery before signing with the Mariners in the offseason. He was placed on the 10-day injured list with a neck issue after just two starts this season and a series of tests showed the tumor.

Specialists determined his condition wouldn’t get any worse by pitching, but that the pain would be more tolerable if he threw a limited number of pitches, hence the relief role.

“They say with time, what I have will eventually burn off and stop producing pain, but we don’t know when that will be,” Graveman said. “Right now, I know what I can do. A lot of this has been trial and error. Right now, pitching in short stints, what I did (Friday), I’m able to one, help the team, and two, feel healthy.”

Right-hander Jordan Lyles (1-3, 8.59) is scheduled to start Sunday for the Rangers, who have lost four games in a row and 16 of their past 19. Lyles is 1-3 with a 6.62 ERA in eight career appearances against the Mariners, including six starts. This will be his third start against Seattle this season.

Dunn has allowed just two hits over 12 scoreless innings in his past two starts combined, against the Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. Dunn is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA against Texas.

The Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo had a season-high four hits in Saturday’s 5-3 loss, including a home run in the ninth inning.

“He’s a pretty integral part of what we’re trying to do right now, because his at-bat quality on a daily basis is really important for our young guys to see,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said of Choo. “He’s a really valuable piece right now for us.”

–Field Level Media

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