Mariners sign Lowe, 2 others to Minor League deals

Mariners sign Lowe, 2 others to Minor League deals

SEATTLE -- Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, who began his career with parts of five seasons in Seattle, said he's happy to come full circle as he's returning to the Mariners on a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp.

Lowe is one of three players with Major League experience who have signed Minor League deals with camp invites, the club announced Thursday. The others are right-handed pitcher Justin Germano and infielder Carlos Rivero.

"The Mariners have always held a special place in our heart," said Lowe. "That's the team that drafted and invested in me and probably the team I'm most familiar with in baseball. I was there yesterday, and it's nice to know everybody by first name and be comfortable with everyone already."

Lowe met his wife while with the Mariners in his first stint, and they now live in her hometown of Vancouver, Wash., with their young daughter.

Lowe, a nine-year MLB veteran, posted a 3.95 ERA in 162 games for Seattle from 2006-10 before being sent to the Rangers as part of the Cliff Lee deal that brought Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson in return.

Lowe pitched in two World Series during his three seasons in Texas, then spent one year with the Angels and last season in the Indians organization. He has a career 4.16 ERA and 1.468 WHIP in 271 games.

The 31-year-old spent most of 2014 with the Indians' Triple-A Columbus club and was 4-3 with 17 saves and a 5.62 ERA in 41 appearances. He pitched in seven games for the Indians, posting a 3.86 ERA (three earned runs in seven innings) with 10 hits, six walks, six strikeouts and two home runs.

Lowe said he's friends with Felix Hernandez and Willie Bloomquist from his previous tenure and knows most of the Mariners from playing against them and keeping tabs on the club that selected him in the fifth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He also knows he'll be competing for a spot in a crowded bullpen that posted the lowest ERA (2.59) in baseball last season.

"Those guys were lights-out last year," he said. "My focus is just come in and be healthy. I'll be ready to go if something happens, more of a depth thing than anything. You never know what's going to happen in this game."

Lowe said he's been fully healthy since undergoing back surgery in 2010 in Seattle. He feels he pitched better than his numbers indicated last year and said he's grown a lot since his first stint with the Mariners.

"I think it was all a growing process," he said of his recent journeys. "It was awesome to be part of two World Series teams and that atmosphere and know what it takes for a big league team to perform at that level every single day. To be around winners like that and have that hunger, it made me a better player. It forces you to grow up as a baseball player and always be ready to go. There was never a day that wasn't a big game, and I'd never really been around that before."

Germano is another right-handed veteran who spent most of the past two years in the Minors in the Blue Jays, Dodgers and Rangers organizations. He pitched 24 games (23 starts) with Round Rock and Albuquerque in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season, with a 5-14 record and 5.02 ERA in 145 1/3 innings.

The 32-year-old has a career 10-30 record and 5.40 ERA over nine seasons with seven big league clubs. He pitched two games in relief for the Rangers last season, allowing seven runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Germano's last significant stint in the Majors was in 2012, when he pitched 13 games (12 starts) while going 2-10 with a 6.75 ERA for the Cubs.

Rivero, 26, made his Major League debut for the Red Sox last season and went 4-for-7 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in four games. The Mariners claimed him off waivers in November, then designated him for assignment several weeks later to open space on their 40-man roster.

But Seattle wants to keep Rivero in the organization and re-signed him to a Minor League deal. Rivero has played mostly shortstop and third base in his pro career, along with a little outfield work. He hit .264 with seven home runs and 53 RBIs in 105 games last season while splitting time between the Red Sox's Double-A and Triple-A clubs.

Rivero currently leads the Venezuelan Winter League in home runs (14), RBIs (42), extra-base hits (23) and is third in slugging percentage (.564) while hitting .282 in 48 games for Cardenales de Lara.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.