OAKLAND, Calif. — While Ken Giles likely won’t pitch in a save situation during the three-game series, the cavernous crypt that once again became the Oakland Coliseum after brief stints of less-than-remarkable corporate sponsorships, will always be a special place for him.
“I have a lot of history on this pitch,” he said on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon. “I made my first save in a big league here and I’m happy to be back here.”
That first save was on September 20, 2014, while he was with the Phillies. His next stop will be 116e in his career.
Giles is happy to be anywhere in the big leagues after missing most of the COVID-shortened 2020 season due to elbow discomfort, sitting out all last season while recovering from Tommy’s surgery John and the first 68 games of this season due to a tendon strain in his middle finger.
“I’m just grateful to have an opportunity after being out for so long,” he said. “Hopefully I can get things done and in any way I can to help this team get back on track.”
Giles last appeared in an MLB game on September 15, 2020 with the Blue Jays. It was his fourth and final appearance of the season, being stopped with an elbow problem, which would be diagnosed as a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He underwent Tommy John surgery on October 1.
Seattle signed him to a two-year, $7 million deal ahead of the 2021 season, knowing Giles wouldn’t pitch the first year of the contract. The Mariners were investing in the 2022 season and the deal included a club option for 2023.
The Mariners expected to have Giles on opening day. But after his best outing in the Cactus League on March 25, where he displayed a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider, Giles felt a weird pain in his middle finger. He was diagnosed as a tendon sprain. This led to a frustratingly slow recovery.
“It was like there was no light at the end of the tunnel in some places,” he said. “At the start of spring training, I felt really good and this last outing was just phenomenal. And then a few days later, something in life popped up out of nowhere. So everything happens for a reason.
Giles realized how much that finger was affecting his throw.
“For pitchers, fingers are everything,” he said. “You can’t throw fastballs. You cannot spin the ball. You can’t do anything. I think the hardest part was letting him heal on his own. There really is no rehabilitation for a finger injury. So just let it run its normal course and wait and wait until it gets better.
Giles made eight appearances in rehab between High-A Everett and Triple-A Tacoma, posting a 14.21 ERA with 10 earned runs allowed in 6 1/3 innings pitched as well as six walks and eight strikeouts . He was not concerned with numbers.
“It’s just throwing again,” he said. “It’s been almost two years since the last time I pitched. I just got my feet wet. I treated it like spring training, preparing my body physically, my mentality and just being around a baseball game. I believe just being in a big league environment will help lock me in a little better than I would have in spring training or a rehab game.
Manager Scott Servais won’t start firing Giles in high leverage situations.
“I think it’s important that we give him a few softer landings, so to speak, on his first two outings,” Servais said. “He hasn’t been out for a while. So put his feet under him. I know he has a ton of experience in this league, but it always helps once you gain confidence and start pitching and working a few innings.
–Following roster changes made Monday, which included the addition of Giles, the recall of infielder Kevin Padlo and the designation of Sergio Romo and Roenis Elias for assignment, the Mariners have 13 position players and 13 pitchers. It is undesirable that they have even numbers. The Mariners would prefer to have 14 pitchers and 12 position players.
MLB forcing the roster setup for a team is a pet peeve for Servais. He often spoke out against it.
“It’s a game-changer for the 30 guys that sit in the seat that I’m sitting in, when you’re trying to make decisions and you don’t want to abuse guys in the bullpen,” he said. declared. “Certainly you try to keep guys healthy throughout the year and so on. But you will see some changes. I think you might see more guys going multiple innings or going out of an inning more. Some nights when you’re down in the game, you might need to let your starter go a little longer to maybe pick up that extra run so you don’t have to get to your bullpen too early. There will be changes there.
What if you lack pitch?
“I think you’ll see more position players throwing than you’ve ever seen throwing before in the game,” Servais said. “And I don’t think that’s a good thing. So I’m not in favor of the rule, but we respect the rules, so we will make adjustments.
– MLB released its first All-Star voting update this summer. The Mariners don’t have a lead player in their position. Ty France is second among American League first basemen with 596,030 votes. Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero Jr. leads all first basemen with 947,045 votes.