Mariners hope to see Storen thrive in Seattle

Acquired Tuesday, righty begins strong but finds tough luck over 1 1/3 in debut with new club

Mariners hope to see Storen thrive in Seattle

PITTSBURGH -- Drew Storen arrived just in time to shake some hands and take part in pregame work prior to Seattle's series finale with the Pirates at PNC Park on Wednesday before he was thrown into his first game with his new Mariners squad in a 10-1 loss.

Storen's debut wasn't a storybook start as he gave up four runs on three hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings of relief, but it's worth noting the former closer threw a 1-2-3 sixth before running into trouble -- and some tough luck -- in a rocky seventh.

Mariners manager Scott Servais acknowledged he pushed Storen too far in sending him out for a second inning, hoping to stay away from using another reliever with the pitcher's spot coming up second in Seattle's next inning in the National League game. But Storen didn't dwell on that postgame, saying he's glad to have a fresh start with a new team that will give him regular work after a rough go in Toronto.

"It was a good grind for me to go back out there," said Storen. "That's something I don't do all that often. I made some good pitches, and they did get some weird hits, but I made some good pitches and thought I could get out of it.

"A couple things didn't go my way, and that's part of it, but for me, it's just throwing the ball well, and I thought I did. The stats might not look good, but from a stuff standpoint and the way I threw it, I'm happy with it."

The 28-year-old right-hander was acquired from the Blue Jays in a trade for veteran setup man Joaquin Benoit on Tuesday night after struggling in Toronto this year and being designated for assignment on Sunday.

"It's a situation where you're hoping a change of scenery helps both guys," Servais said. "Joaquin is trying to get healthy and on a roll, and he really struggled to get much going, and then with the emergence of [Edwin] Diaz and him kind of taking over there."

Storen had 95 saves and a 3.02 ERA in six seasons with the Nationals but a 6.21 ERA in 38 outings with the Blue Jays this season as he lost his setup role and eventually his job following a season-long struggle.

"I don't know Storen's whole story in Toronto, but you look at the numbers, and they're kind of similar [to Benoit]," Servais said. "He gave up a lot of hits and just wasn't as effective as he'd been. We saw him on Saturday, and he didn't have a great outing, but in a situation like this, you're just trying to catch lightning in a bottle."

Servais notes that pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. has had success helping Tom Wilhelmsen get back on track after his difficulties in Texas earlier this year.

Storen, a free agent after the season, will work initially in middle-relief situations, but he has the experience to help out in later innings if the current group of right-handers Wilhelmsen, Diaz and Steve Cishek get overworked.

Additionally, Nick Vincent could rejoin the club in mid-August if his recovery from a mid-back strain continues.

"I like the back end of our bullpen right now," Servais said. "I think it's lining up. The fact Tom Wilhelmsen has done what he's done is really nice for where we're at. I'm also excited because Nick Vincent is feeling much better, too. You hopefully look up here, and we get Storen and Vincent going, and it's a pretty nice bullpen at the end of the day."

Wilhelmsen has been a huge midseason boost as he's posted a 1.08 ERA in his first 10 games with Seattle and stranded 11 of 12 inherited runners after being saddled with a 10.55 ERA in 21 games for Texas.

Wilhelmsen strands the runners

"I guess it's just a comfort level, maybe," Wilhelmsen said. "My stuff is still there. I felt pretty confident over there, too. I'm guessing it's just I'm much more comfortable in a Mariners uniform than I was in a Texas uniform. I don't know how that translates, but I really don't care because it's working."

Servais isn't going to overthink it, either. He's just glad to see the results and would love to see something similar happen with Storen.

"I think the big thing with Tom was getting his confidence back," Servais said. "He's comfortable being a Mariner; we're glad he's comfortable being a Mariner. But you still have to get people out. He's kind of been my go-to guy, my trouble guy. When we've got traffic, he figures out a way to get through it because he's got experience. That means a lot. You want a guy out there who's not going to panic and just make pitches, and that's what he's done for us."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.