"It was kind of a whirlwind of emotions," Kensing said of his hectic 24 hours after pitching an inning in Colorado Springs on Saturday night and then being told he'd be joining the big league club via a phone call from Rainiers manager Pat Listach about midnight.
Kensing will serve as the third right-hander in the 'pen, while Elias will work initially in relief, but soon could join the rotation. The two were called up from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the spots created by Saturday night's decisions to designate Fernando Rodney for assignment and option Danny Farquhar back to Tacoma.
Elias started 13 games for the Mariners earlier in the season and was 4-6 with a 4.27 ERA. He made 12 starts with Tacoma and was 4-2 with a 7.34 ERA, though he pitched better his last outing with six hits and two runs in seven innings Tuesday at Oklahoma City.
Because Elias is five days removed from that start, he's available immediately in the bullpen, where the Mariners could use a veteran left-handed presence. With Charlie Furbush and Joe Beimel both on the disabled list, Seattle's only southpaws are rookies Rob Rasmussen, David Rollins and Edgar Olmos, who have a combined 45 1/3 innings of Major League experience with a 7.35 ERA.
Elias went 10-12 with a 3.85 ERA in 29 starts last year as a rookie. So he gives McClendon a more experienced lefty reliever, but also presents another rotation option in place of Vidal Nuno, who has started four games since J.A. Happ was traded to the Pirates on July 31.
Why not put Elias in the rotation immediately?
"Nuno pitched yesterday, so I need somebody in the bullpen," McClendon said. "You could very well see Elias start real soon. I'm not sure exactly when. But right now I need him to pitch out of the bullpen because we're short."
Kensing has appeared in 135 games with the Marlins, Nationals and Rockies, but has only one Major League outing since 2009 after missing all of 2010 following a pair of bone-spur surgeries. He was 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA and one save in 19 games with Tacoma after agreeing to a Minor League deal in May.
"He's throwing the best down there," McClendon said of the decision to bring up the veteran. "Right now he's our third righty. We've only got three."
That in itself is an unusual move, with rookie closer Carson Smith and veteran Tom Wilhelmsen the only other right-handers at the moment.
"I'd rather have four, but we'll do the best we can with it right now," McClendon said. "Obviously Elias is capable of getting righties and lefties out. And if Nuno is back in the bullpen, he's capable of getting righties and lefties out."